The Miami Dolphins are hopeful quarterback Jay Cutler can clear the NFL concussion protocol by Saturday and he’ll be available to play against the New England Patriots. But even if Cutler clears, there is a good chance Matt Moore will start Sunday.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase, who has expressed great confidence in Cutler this season, on Wednesday would not address whether Cutler would be the starter if he doesn’t practice this week. But a source said the Dolphins are leaning toward starting Moore and using Cutler in an emergency or in relief if he’s needed.
A final decision will not be made until late in the week and obviously all of this is moot if Cutler does not clear the concussion protocol at all.
“I’m sure there’ll be a point before I make a decision,” Gase said. “I don’t really know what the timetable is right now. I’m just kind of taking it day by day right now. When you’re in the protocol, we as coaches remove ourselves and let the process kind of take care of itself. Really, at the end of the day, the protocol tells us what the right thing to do is.”
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Moore worked with the first-team offense in practice Wednesday while Cutler sat out practice because he had not yet been cleared.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, are planning to be without right guard Jermon Bushrod on Sunday. Bushrod injured a foot against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and could not return to the game. He is not expected to practice this week, barring a significant and unexpected improvement in his status.
The Dolphins expect to go with Jesse Davis at right guard.
As Davis started at right tackle against Tampa Bay because Ja’Wuan James is out for the remainder of the season, the Dolphins would have to find a new starter at that position when Davis moves to guard. That will mean Sam Young starts at right tackle.
The Dolphins have one other issue along the offensive line and that is that left tackle Laremy Tunsil did not practice Wednesday because he has the flu. Although the team is hopeful Tunsil can play on Sunday, there are concerns about how effective he’ll be after he’s lost between 10 and 20 pounds due to the illness.
The Dolphins defense is also managing injuries, with defensive end William Hayes and linebacker Stephone Anthony both missing practice on Wednesday.
Hayes has a back injury that could cause him to miss Sunday’s game, per a league source, while Anthony is managing a quadriceps injury that makes his status for Sunday uncertain at best.
The Patriots, meanwhile, are also managing injury issues.
They reported quarterback Tom Brady missed practice with an Achilles injury and tight end Rob Gronkowski missed practice because of an illness. NFL.com reported Brady is fine.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero