Written by Luis Sung | Twitter: @FLSportDebater
The Miami Dolphins may go into Sunday's game against the New England Patriots without all their starters at the linebacker position. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler has been dealing with a thumb injury and he practiced yesterday with his entire right hand in a big black cast.
“Certainly, that is a day-to-day thing,” coach Joe Philbin said. “Certainly, we want to get him out there [Wednesday] and get him used to it. We’ll check with the medical staff first and foremost to see how he’s responding. We’ll take it a day at a time. … I thought he really made improvements, but we’ll see.”
The Dolphins certainly have backup options for Wheeler should the need arise, veteran linebacker Jason Trusnik quietly had a very strong preseason and he has shown the ability to play all three linebacker positions in the past.
Another option is standout undrafted free agent Chris McCain, who came on as a huge surprise to everyone as he showed an uncanny ability to rush the quarterback. In my opinion however, it may be a wise precaution to only use McCain sparingly and only in pass-rushing situations. McCain hasn't shown much yet in coverage and it may be too early to make him play against one of the best weakness finding quarterbacks in the NFL.
Another option should the need arise is second-year linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who after a good showing against the St. Louis Rams managed to hang on to a roster spot. Jenkins wound up stealing snaps from Wheeler late last season and he may be called upon to do so again, although Trusnik and McCain would probably be better options.