Dion Jordan continues rebab work on that troublesome right shoulder and as the regular season draws closer, sources within the team tell me there is a growing concern the rookie first-round pick may not be ready to play in the regular-season opener.
Jordan will miss Saturday's preseason home-opener against Tampa Bay, which is the most important game of the preseason for the Dolphins. He has already missed several weeks of practice and last week's game at Houston. He missed this week of practice, as well, including today.
Publicly, the team continues to put as optimistic a spin on the issue as possible.
Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle on Wednesday tried to be positive about the likelihood Jordan would be ready for the Sept. 8 opener at Cleveland when he was asked if he doubted Jordan would be available.
"Um, I don't have doubt," Coyle said. "I hope if he stays on target with what we're hearing and what we're seeing, he'll be ready to help us come opening day."
But privately, there has been discussion about whether it is better to keep Jordan out of practice longer than anticipated until there is certainty he has fully strengthened the shoulder beyond any doubt. There has also been discussion with trainers about the chances Jordan could continue to re-injure the shoulder as he plays.
The reason for that discussion is that Jordan must use the shoulder extensively in pass rushing -- with swim moves and under moves -- to get past offensive tackles.
The Dolphins are concerned enough about that issue that they're making contingency plans for not having Jordan available against Cleveland, along with their hopeful plans for using him if he's ready.
“There’s always going to be a plan A, plan B, plan C as you approach the season," Coyle said. "We have a plan in place to utilize Dion, provided that he’s up and ready to go. I think he’s making strides with his rehab and working with our trainers and strength coaches. So we are ready to implement that plan if in fact we get the green light.
"If not, we are proceeding as if we wouldn’t have him in another plan. That’s just part of
football where a guy goes down you’ve got to have a plan. One person doesn’t necessarily completely alter your game plan, so there are other people who can play the role we originally had planned for Dion as well on the current roster. That won’t keep us out of doing certain things that we think are going to help us win the game."
Jordan originally injured his shoulder in college and had surgery in February to remedy the problem. He re-injured it in the Dolphins second game of the preseason against Jacksonville Aug. 9.