The Dolphins this evening added cornerback Jason Allen to the injury report, but before you go raising those eyebrows, it is not what you think.
The Dolphins added him this evening as having practiced full but as being probable for the game. This comes after Allen practiced full the entire week (Wednesday and Thursday) and did not appear on the injury report despite having a broken hand.
So do we have a mystery? Absolutely.
But, again, it's not what you think.
While most folks would automatically default to thoughts of the Dolphins trying to manipulate the injury report in order to mask an injury, the truth is they could be manipulating the injury report to mask their displeasure with Allen.
Allen, you see, has slim chances of playing on defense Sunday, according to a couple of people I have spoken with that don't like him too much. But it has nothing to do with injury. The injury is not an issue for him. It has to do with his ability.
Two team sources have told me that the Dolphins believe Allen isn't very good, despite the common perception that he has done quite well in the time he's had playing the third cornerback spot in nickel and dime packages.
Furthermore, believe it or not, the sources tell me some coaches think Joey Thomas played better last week against the St. Louis Rams than Allen played the week before against New England. And so, despite the fact the team believes Allen can play and the injury isn't an issue, the decision might be made to bench him from the nickel and dime package because of his ability. A final decision will be made Sunday afternoon before the game.
Thomas and Allen shared practice snaps in the nickel and dime package this week.
Early Friday Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was purposefully vague about Allen after saying all week long that he was fine and healthy. When Sparano was asked if Allen would play he answered: "I’m not going to tell you that. You’ll see at the game. The best players on my team will play on Sunday.”
My media collegues, obviously suspecting the injury was the issue, then asked if Allen shouldn't be on the injury report based on the fact his hand is still wrapped and in a cast.
“That doesn’t have anything to do with it for me," Sparano said. "My evaluation is based on who’s playing and who’s not playing and who’s playing the best. The best players on my team will play on Sunday.”
Given that I just explained to you Sparano's decision is one of quality and not one of injury, you should get his veiled reference to "the best players," playing. But most people haven't quite pieced that together yet.
They still think the Allen situation is an effort by the team to hide an injury.
Aware that perception could become reality, the Dolphins called media this evening to add Allen to the injury report after their initial Friday injury report did not, in fact, include him. The idea by the team is that it won't look quite so suspicious on Sunday when/if Allen doesn't play on defense while Thomas does.
But let me repeat, this is not about the injury. It is about what the Dolphins think of Allen's ability outright. Obviously, Sparano could have cleared all this up Friday by simply saying, "We think Joey Thomas is better than Jason Allen right now."
But the coach would never be so blunt because he never wants to uncover one of his players publicly. Sparano always says things like, "Ernest Wilford is improving," even while Wilford goes week after week after week not being good enough to make the active roster on Sundays.
The point here is this: You should not be worried that the Dolphins are trying to hide or cover up injuries -- at least not in this case. They are not the New England Patriots in that regard.
You should be concerned that the player the team selected with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2006 draft is fighting not to be passed by Joey Thomas, a guy that wasn't on the active roster the first six weeks of the season and wasn't on any NFL regular-season roster in 2006 and 2007.