Chris Culliver has been a curious player for the Miami Dolphins because there has been a lot of attention paid to his likely return from major knee surgery (much of that by me) and so far he’s not a factor.
Indeed, Culliver will not play Sunday at the Los Angeles Rams. He simply is not ready.
He isn’t able to cover well in practice. He isn’t able to run with ease. He simply is not ready to play.
And this leads to some questions:
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Will the Dolphins be patient with him? Definitely, coach Adam Gase is not loving the constant questions about Culliver’s status.
“When I’m ready to say he’s active, he’ll be active,” Gase said Thursday. “I think that’s pretty much the last time I’m going to talk about that.”
So will Culliver ever be able to regain the ability he showed prior to the injury last November?
Hey, I get it: It has only been a year since Culliver suffered that very serious injury that required reconstructive surgery. He’s been practicing only about three weeks. And a breakthrough may come at any moment.
But the question is will he be patient with the process? And will the Dolphins remain patient with him?
Coach Adam Gase said during his press conference Thursday the team was doing more investigation on Mike Pouncey’s hip issue and that he didn’t know if the Pro Bowl center would play Sunday or not, as it wasn’t decided yet.
Well, everyone I spoke with privately said Pouncey is not playing.
This team was moving forward with the idea of Anthony Steen starting at center. There was not one person that said to me, “We’re hopeful on getting good news” about Pouncey for Sunday.
So it would seem like hoping beyond hope that he plays. Indeed, I would not be shocked if this is more than a one-week situation.
One of the facts the Dolphins coaching staff is taking solace in about the offensive line is that during training camp, different players practiced at different spots to stay familiar with those other positions. The position flexibility thing was supposed to help in such an instance as this week when Laremy Tunsil will be moving from left guard to left tackle.
“I do think that those deposits we made playing a lot of people at a lot of different positions, that was frustrating to them and to you (the media) and probably to everybody, but there’s going to be some dividends from that,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said.
“It’s not a shock that our (left) guard will go out to (left) tackle. He has been playing out there. We repped him. We kept him honed up in there. Urbik and Steen have played both guard and center in there. I think that it’s not ideal. It’s a curveball, but it’s the hand we got, and we’ve got to go. I really do think we’ve prepared that way mentality-wise with coach Gase and also practically by playing all those guys at all those different positions.”
The thing is ... that cross training happened in training camp. It has not been happening during the regular season to any great degree.
Yes, Tunsil got this entire week of practice at left tackle. That’s good. But how many left tackle repetitions in practice does he get on a normal week?
“A week? Probably one,” Tunsil said. “When B.A. (Branden Albert) was there, I probably got one snap at left tackle. I was more focused at guard then.”
As I reported earlier in the week on Twitter (Follow me @ArmandoSalguero), Jelani Jenkins doesn’t look able to extend his injured knee fully when he walks from place to place at the resort where the Dolphins are staying this week.
If the guy hasn’t practiced and doesn’t look like he’s able to walk, how the heck is he going to play on Sunday?
“Jelani’s been beat up a little bit but played well last week,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. “He had a club on his hand for four quarters and played well, and now he’s got a knee. If he can’t go then Neville Hewitt would play most of the base downs and Spencer Paysinger would play the sub downs. Neville has been splitting time with Jelani in base the last month and he’s played well, so I’m pleased with Neville.
“If (Jenkins) can’t go, Neville will play for him and we have Spencer playing the sub downs.”
Yeah, that’s the way it looks like it is going to be.
Mario Williams, who has not practiced all week because of an ankle injury, is not a certainty for the Rams game at this point. But he will try to practice Friday (around 2:30 p.m. eastern).
If he cannot make it work, the Dolphins will make him inactive Sunday and have Terrence Fede active.
By the way, today I wrote about how Andre Branch could be the guy to pair with Cameron Wake going forward. He seems like a keeper.
You know who is looking less and less and less like a keeper? Williams.
I wrote a month ago the Dolphins were going to divest of Williams after this season and the player has done nothing to change anyone’s mind on that. Indeed, he’s gone from starter to backup now but is still carrying the team’s sixth-highest salary cap tag.
The Dolphins will have a choice next year: Carry Williams and his $10.5 million cap charge ... Or cut him and save $8.5 million in cap space while swallowing the $2 million in dead money.
No way the Dolphins carry Williams at that price.
The Dolphins are spending their final day in Carlsbad today. Tomorrow they will load onto four or five buses and head to Los Angeles in advance of Sunday’s game against the Rams at the Coliseum.
I cannot remember the last time the Dolphins traveled to a game by bus. But loading an entire team onto a charter jet for what would be a 20 minute flight was ruled out for convenience. So it’ll be two hours or so on the bus.
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