Armando Salguero

Key Miami Dolphins starter is out for the remainder of the season. What it means

Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Josh Sitton, left, is injured and will be replaced in the lineup by Ted Larsen, center.
Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Josh Sitton, left, is injured and will be replaced in the lineup by Ted Larsen, center. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Miami Dolphins starting left guard Josh Sitton is out for the remainder of the season.

Sitton tore a rotator cuff in the second half of Sunday’s 27-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans and will require surgery to fix the tear, according to a league source.

The Dolphins will replace Sitton in the starting lineup with Ted Larsen, who took almost all the practice work at left guard throughout training camp on days Sitton was held out to rest. Larsen will start on Sunday against the New York Jets.

Sitton, 32, previously had issues with his right shoulder. A source said this injury was on the opposite side.

Neither the Dolphins nor Sitton are absolutely certain when the injury happened. It seems the player felt a strain on one play, continued playing and later took a hit, which may have completed the tearing of the rotator cuff. A key frustration for the Dolphins is that Sitton was actually on special teams when he initially hurt himself.

When Sitton learned of his diagnosis, he asked about playing anyway. Doctors told him he could try but that would expose him to further damage that surgery eventually could not repair, making it a career-threatening injury.

Miami Dolphins head coach, Adam Gase, announces Ted Larsen will start against the Jets on Sunday, during his press conference at the Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018.

So the decision was made to shut down Sitton. He will go on injured reserve.

This is a serious blow to the Dolphins. Sitton not only was perhaps the Dolphins best run-blocker but had taken on something of a mentor role with left tackle Laremy Tunsil.

The two men had forged a quick bond and were working well together -- not only in their blocking combinations, but in addressing issues such as preparation and practice habits that seemed to affect Tunsil early last season.

“Josh is a great leader,” center Daniel Kilgore said of his teammate Wednesday before the severity of Sitton’s injury was known. “Obviously he’s been around a lot of winning football. He’s a great player, been All-Pro.

“His knowledge of this game really helps out. Having Sitton here is huge. Any locker room would be happy to have a veteran guy like Josh Sitton and we’re lucky enough to have him.”

The Dolphins actually feel lucky that while many NFL teams are scrambling for offensive line help they have an experienced backup in Larsen. He’s started 73 of the 111 games he’s played, including eight last season for Miami.

It should also be noted that other teams needing offensive line help contacted the Dolphins during the preseason to see about trading for Larsen.

The fact remains, however, that Sunday’s opponent, the New York Jets, were expected to be a difficult matchup for the Miami offensive line even with Sitton in the lineup. And now that he’s out, that becomes a greater concern.

“Does it change things? Absolutely,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said Wednesday when asked if the possibility of not having Sitton was an issue. “If you didn’t have someone at any position, you look to (say), ‘How is this matchup going to affect us in the game?’”

Not in a positive way, probably. And it will be that way the remainder of the season.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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