Armando Salguero

Jay Cutler ‘ready to go’ but Miami Dolphins have multiple other unresolved issues before season-opener

Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler has answered perhaps the biggest question the Dolphins have faced about their roster in the past month.
Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler has answered perhaps the biggest question the Dolphins have faced about their roster in the past month. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

We don’t know when the Dolphins are playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of Hurricane Irma.

We don’t know who is starting at the cornerback position not manned by Xavien Howard.

We don’t know whether Jordan Phillips or rookie Davon Godchaux will start at defensive tackle.

We don’t know if Rey Maualuga is ready to play yet.

We don’t know if the depth the Dolphins have crafted at linebacker is any good.

It’s amazing these are things the Dolphins are uncertain about today while the issues the club was sweating a month ago are not anywhere on the worry radar.

So what were Miami’s concerns a month ago?

How about who was going to play quarterback? Remember that?

That was a crisis for about four days when Ryan Tannehill went down with a season-ending knee injury Aug. 4. Jay Cutler was eventually signed and then the question was whether a 34-year-old quarterback who had retired and hadn’t been throwing for months could get ready in time for the season.

Well, he’s ready ...

“I feel good about it,” Gase said of his starting quarterback’s status. “I feel like he did the one thing we talked about he needed to do and that is the feel in the pocket and guys being around. It seems like his arm is in good enough shape to where he’ll be ready to throw more and more as we’ve gone along.

“It seems like he’s fresh and excited and ready to go.”

Miami Dolphins QB Jay Cutler talks about missing football while he was retired, his ex-teammate Alshon Jeffery and more.

The other major issue the Dolphins needed an answer about during training camp was whether Mike Pouncey could be healthy enough to be counted on. The team kept Pouncey on a one-day-on, one-day-off practice regimen during the latter half of camp and the preseason.

And Pouncey played the third preseason game at Philadelphia after practicing against the Eagles that week. It was, according to sources, an enormous success as Pouncey played and practiced well.

And and is healthy. The former Pro Bowl center practiced on Monday.

Despite this, Gase said Monday the team will continue to be careful with Pouncey’s practice regimen.

“It’s similar to what you guys have seen,” Gase said. “I feel good with what [trainers] put together.”

So neither Cutler nor Pouncey are concerns. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t items that need solutions.

The Dolphins have been preparing for their regular-season opener against the Bucs for a long time.

“We’ve done enough to where we’re getting our guys ready without them knowing about it,” Gase said. “A lot of teams do that in training camp. It’s really a lot of situational work that can come. It feels like we’ve been training for this game for a while.”

So the Dolphins believe they will be ready if Sunday’s scheduled 1 p.m. kickoff is moved to, say, Thursday because of Irma. That storm still lurks in the Atlantic and South Florida is in general cone of uncertainty.

The other unknowns surrounding this game and this team could be solved after one good, long, solid week of practice. The issue is the Dolphins might not have a good, long, solid week of practice.

“If they tell us whatever they tell us to do, we’ll go with that,” Gase said of moving game day. “Whatever they tell us, we’ll just go with it ... They tell us when to play and we show up.”

Both Alterraun Verner and Byron Maxwell are expected to be active for Sunday’s game. The question is which one will start.

“We’re going to go through this week and we’ll figure it out by the end of the week,” Gase said.

Same with the defensive tackle situation. Obviously, Ndamukong Suh will lock down on tackle spot for his typical 80-85 percent of the snaps. And both Phillips and Godchaux will play.

The question is who the Dolphins will trot out with the starting unit on game day.

The Dolphins linebacker corps is weak. That’s the reason the team claimed Justin March-Lillard on Sunday and is actually expected to be active for the game -- days after joining the team.

Obviously if Maualuga, who was signed two weeks ago, can be in good enough shape to play, the linebacker corps improves. The question is whether Maualuga, who reported to the team just short of 270 pounds but needs to be at 258, is in the type of shape that would suggest he’s ready.

“We’ll practice today and kind of see how it goes,” Gase said.

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