The Miami Dolphins lost the battle at the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense last week and their prospects for changing that fact against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday has taken another significant blow.
Cameron Wake, perhaps the best defensive player on the team, was downgraded from doubtful to out against the Bengals on Saturday. When the team boarded its charter, Wake was not even on it as he remained behind in South Florida.
That comes in a week the defensive line started undermanned because Andre Branch will also miss the Bengals game, his second week out, with a knee injury and William Hayes is out for the season with a knee injury. The Dolphins also cut defensive tackle Jordan Phillips on Tuesday.
The offensive line, by the way, was also dominated at New England and it lost center Daniel Kilgore in that game for the remainder of the season because of a torn triceps.
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So what now?
Well, Charles Harris, who had been playing in a reserve role behind Robert Quinn is going to have to move over to Wake’s side. It should be clear he’s the new starter with Branch unavailable but Harris hasn’t exactly been dominating. He has only one solo tackle in four games.
Last week Harris got fewer snaps than Jonathan Woodard, who had been signed off the practice squad only days earlier.
It would be hard to fathom, however, the Dolphins starting Woodard over Harris. Harris started two games as a rookie in 2017.
The second-year player this week struck a positive chord of what happens when players cannot answer the call on game day due to injuries.
“It ain’t hard. It’s next man up. That’s the mentality around here,” Harris said. “Guys getting their opportunity and now they can step up to the plate and capitalize. It ain’t hard. That’s why we practice ... By the time the game time comes around, everybody will be ready to go.”
The Dolphins did add Cameron Malveaux, who played four games for the team last year, to the active roster. He is expected to join the rotation at defensive end along with Quinn, Harris and Woodard.
For Wake, this is the first game he misses since the 2015 season when he tore the Achilles’ tendon in his left leg. He played only seven games that season.
Wake, 36, played 16 games in 2016 and ‘17.
But Wake now joins the list of 30-something Dolphins to miss games this year.
Right guard Josh Sitton, 32, played only one game before tearing his rotator cuff. He’s out for the year.
Hayes, 33, is out for the year after suffering an ACL injury against Oakland.
Kilgore, 30, went down last week at New England.