December 04, 2010

Dolphins may not miss Crowder's contributions

When I tweeted Friday that Channing Crowder is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, one of my followers answered my tweet in stinging fashion. If Crowder cannot play Sunday as expected, after not practicing all week on an injured knee, my follower noted the inside linebacker will not have any fewer tackles than he had last week against Oakland.

Zero.

Ziiiiing!

But it is true. Crowder, even when healthy this year, has not exactly posted impressive statistics. After missing the first four games with some sort of abdominal/groin injury, Crowder has only 22 tackles in 7 games.

That averages out to slightly over three tackles per game. That's good for a cornerback or a nose tackle. But it is not very good for an inside linebacker. Karlos Dansby, by comparison, averages more than seven tackles per game.

Crowder has had five tackles or more in a game only once this year, when he collected six against Chicago. Dansby has had five tackles or more in a game nine times.

That's not the most frustrating thing. It would be acceptable if Crowder wasn't a tackle machine but came up with timely plays -- momentum-changing plays here and there. He hasn't been doing that, either.

He doesn't have a sack. He doesn't have an interception. He doesn't have a forced fumble. He doesn't have a recovered fumble.

That doesn't mean Channing Crowder isn't a solid player. It does mean he's just not having an eye-opening season. And he's not a big contributor.

Tim Dobbins would be the expected starter for Crowder if he sits out as expected. 

September 11, 2010

Crowder out vs. Bills, probably vs. Vikes, too

In the coming hours you'll likely hear reports from various sources that Channing Crowder has been downgraded from questionable to out for Sunday's game at Buffalo.

Let's get a bit beyond that. The fact is it is unlikely Crowder, nursing some sort of mysterious groin injury, probably will play next week against Minnesota, either. The Dolphins are optimistic Crowder will be able to kick off the 2010 regular season against the New York Jets on Sept. 26. But the club believes the chances are less likely than more likely Crowder will play against the Vikings.

That doesn't mean Crowder might not enjoy a miraculous healing in the coming eight days and be able to get on the field versus Minnesota on Sept. 19. But that is exactly what it would take -- a miracle.

The Dolphins will go with Tim Dobbins in Crowder's absence. 

September 10, 2010

... And once again, no Crowder at practice

The Dolphins final full practice before leaving to Buffalo? Routine for the most part.

On Friday the Dolphins put the finishing touches on their prep work for the Bills and, once again, inside linebacker Channing Crowder (groin) did not participate. As I told you yesterday on this blog, it just does not seem plausible for Crowder to play in the regular season opener.

[UPDATE: Crowder is listed as questionable on Friday's injury report. Jake Long (knee) is listed as probable after practicing all week, even if on a limited basis. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall (ankle) is listed as probable. Marshall practiced fully on Thursday and Friday.]

I don't believe Crowder will even make the trip. I bet you hear reports of the Dolphins leaving him home by this time Saturday.

As for how he's looking, don't believe me. Believe your eyes from this video, courtesy Jeff Darlington's Miami Minute upload:

The Bills, by the way, are having linebacker issues of their own. Reggie Torbor was declared out for this game. So was Antonio Coleman. They also placed Kawika Mitchell on injured reserve on Thursday. The Bills are expected to go into Sunday's game with only three linebackers.

That's usually bad news for a 3-4 defense that needs four linebackers to just be on the field. I remind you, however, that the Bills used a 4-3 look in their final preseason game.

One more thing: Akin Ayodele, who was signed Thursday will not be active for the game, according to head coach Chan Gailey.

September 09, 2010

Thursday roundup from Miami Dolphins

My question to Tony Sparano on Thrusday was simple enough: Give me your No. 1 key to victory against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

“Number one key to be able to win this game in my opinion I would tell you would have to be the turnover situation," Sparano said. "I think we need to win the turnover situation. We can’t come out 0-0 in this game. I think we need to be ahead of the curve in the turnover situation, and I think that if you can do that and you can minimize the minus plays, the negative plays when you’re in somebody’s else’s place, I think you have a chance."

Understand that it is not new for a coach to say he doesn't want turnovers. But it is interesting that Sparano not only thinks, but stresses that the Dolphins must win the turnover battle to "have a chance." 

That wouldn't be a big deal to me if the Dolphins were playing the New Orleans Saints or Indianapolis Colts. But they're playing the Buffalo Bills, for goodness sakes. The Bills aren't winning any titles this year, folks. They'll be lucky to rise from the division cellar where they finished last year.

And the Dolphins need to have the Bills make more turnovers to beat them? The Dolphins cannot beat the Bills if both teams play error-free?

I am extremely nervous about this game. We all expected the Dolphins to easily be the better team. But looking over the Bills and Dolphins, I don't see an enormous gap. I don't see a 31-14 blowout for the Dolphins in a return slap for the beating Buffalo administered Miami in Orchard Park last year.

I predict a very, very close game.

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Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said today he was not sure if the Bills would have all three of their running backs -- C.J. Spiller, Marshawn Lynch, and Fred Jackson -- available to him.

I think I know.

During a segment on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo, Buffalo coach Chan Gailey said all three RBs will play against the Dolphins.

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I don't see how Channing Crowder (groin) plays against Buffalo. He hasn't practiced in nearly a month. He isn't running or cutting. He cannot possibly be in football shape now because he hasn't hit anyone for a long time.

Sparano kept hinting he was not worried about Crowder's availability for the Buffalo game as late as last week. He obviously has information we do not and he's not sharing it right now. So maybe the miraculous happens.

(The Dolphins, by the way, fine players if they speak to the media about their injuries -- something the players will eventually figure out gives the team an advantage over opponents, but also gives the team an advantage over them, too.)

Anyway, my naked eyes tell me not to expect Crowder playing the Bills. Tim Dobbins would be the starter there, if the depth chart can be believed. How's the "throw-in" in the draft-day trade with San Diego looking now?

We get on the Dolphins for blowing it when they pay guys such as Jake Grove $29.5 million and he turns out to be a bust. We should also note with appreciation when they find nuggets like Dobbins.

And, oh by the way, if Dobbins indeed starts and plays well, I'd be getting a little worried if I'm Channing Crowder. He is not promised anything. If he can be replaced by a less-noted, lower-paid player who is healthy then what is the point of keeping him?

Crowder should think about what happened to Grove during this uncapped year in that regard. Or maybe he should think about what happened to Justin Smiley or Matt Roth. Injured guys don't play. And guys that don't play don't stick around here.

Follow me on twitter.

[BROADCAST NOTE: Huge show on Armando and the Amigo on Friday. Guests will include Miami SS Yeremiah Bell, CBS information man Charley Casserly, ESPN's Marcellus Wiley, Bernie Kosar, former Bills coach Marv Levy, and the New York Post's Mark CannizzaroArmando and the Amigo is on every weekday morning 6-10 on 640-AM. If you're not in the area, listen on the web here.

September 06, 2010

Long, Crowder not practicing as Bills week begins

The Dolphins are working this Labor Day morning but not everyone is on the field as the team begins preparation for Sunday's season-opener at Buffalo.

The Miami Herald's David J. Neal reports that neither Jake Long (knee) nor Channing Crowder (unknown injury) are working. Both are on the field and stretching but neither is in gear and seemingly ready to participate in today's work. Long is wearing a brace on his left knee.

Lydon Murtha is working as the first-team left tackle today.

Now, climb off the ledge.

This is not by any means a final indication that both will miss the season-opener. Every indication has been that both will be able to play against the Bills -- including Long saying he'd be fine, and coach Tony Sparano saying he wasn't concerned about Crowder missing the game.

But ...

Well, we won't know for sure until game time. The Dolphins must release an injury report on Wednesday so we'll get a clearer indication if today's time off is a cause for greater concern than we might currently be inclined to have. 

The Dolphins today announced their seven-man practice squad. Six of the seven were with the team in training camp. The members today are:

DB Jonathon Amaya, DE Ryan Baker, G Ray Feinga, LB Chris McCoy, WR Julius Pruitt, LB Austin Spitler and TE Nathan Overbay, who spent training camp with the Denver Broncos.