Fans and to some degree members of the professional working press (who deserve your utmost respect) sometimes hyper-focus on game days and its results and don't think as much, or even a lot, about practice.
Because, as Allen Iverson once infamously said, "We're talking about practice."
But missing most of the practice week, as Mario Williams did last week, and then playing on game day can be something of a shock to the system that we underestimate. And for players in the concussion protocol, who cannot practice or even condition and lift, the idea of going from doing nothing to playing four quarters can be a burden.
“It was difficult," Williams said Thursday. "I didn’t realize it until being out there. But definitely not doing anything for a week, having to go through the protocol for the safety of myself or anybody in this situation, and then playing ... Having been in the protocol, I mean you can’t do anything. You know, wind and actual physical activities (were) gone for a week, pretty much. So it was kind of a shock. But getting back into things physically (this week) you’re running around and everything like that. So it’s getting better. I’m good."
Williams was definitely not the same against the Patriots as against the Seahawks. Although he played fewer snaps in the opener, he was more productive. He had a sack and two tackles against Seattle in 45 snaps. He had one tackle against the Patriots in 56 snaps.
Running back Arian Foster will face a similar task on Sunday if he somehow rallies from his current groin ailment. He hasn't practiced all week. He's spent the time mostly getting treatment, hoping to recover by game time.
So he won't practice all week and then carry the football 15-18 times? Hard to fathom.
“Right now, we’re still kind of going through the process as far as trying to figure out how bad his injury is and doing some rehab stuff," said coach Adam Gase. "We’ll kind of see the Friday, Saturday thing. Obviously with a veteran player, it gives you a little more of an option. Obviously any time you can get a guy out there practicing and you get through a practice, it makes you feel better as a coach, knowing that a guy’s active (and that) he’s going to make it through the entire game. We’ll just keep going through our little deal here and we’ll make a decision towards the end of the week."
Privately, the Dolphins are thinking they can hold Foster out of this game and hope (big hope) to have him ready to go next Thursday at Cincinnati.
This doesn't necessarily figures into the decision but perhaps should: The Browns are terrible. Miami should beat Cleveland even without Foster. And if the Dolphins can beat the Browns without Foster and then have him ready to play against the better Bengals, a game in which they might need him much more, then that would improve the team's chances of winning both games.
The chances Foster plays Sunday are quite slim. I was told earlier in the week he wasn't playing against Cleveland but Gase refused to commit one way or another on Thursday.
This much is certain: Something dramatic would have to happen between now and Sunday for Foster to be able to play.
“...With two games so close together, and just thinking long term as far as this season goes, I would have to feel really, really good about it," Gase said of playing Foster without any practice this week.