As we head into what could very well be the season’s first true snow game, the Dolphins and Bills will be preparing to play without a few key players. Miami will be playing without safety Eric Rowe, while Buffalo will head into the matchup without offensive guard Ryan Bates.
Rowe hasn’t been the prominent defensive player he was during his first two seasons in Miami but was forced back into a starting role when safety Brandon Jones was placed on injured reserve. A hamstring injury will hold Rowe out of tonight’s game, pushing the Dolphins to their third-string safety.
With Elijah Campbell also out tonight with a concussion, Miami has only two options to turn to at safety. The team will either have to start undrafted rookie Verone McKinley, who started a game earlier on this year, or veteran Clayton Fejedelem, who hasn’t started a game since 2018 when he was with the Bengals, alongside regular starter Jevon Holland. McKinley did overlap with Holland at Oregon with the two playing a year together in the Ducks’ secondary. The team also has the option of pushing a cornerback like veteran Justin Bethel into the safety role if needed.
The Bills will be without Bates to start a game for the first time this season. Bates suffered an ankle injury in last week’s win over the Jets that knocked him out of the game. Buffalo used two players to fill in for Bates in Greg Van Roten and Bobby Hart. Seeing how Van Roten got the majority of the snaps last week, he’s likely to be tapped to start this week in place of Bates.
Here are a few other injury updates from around the league, these both from the NFC:
- Cowboys veteran defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins suffered a sprained pectoral muscle early in last week’s win over the Texans, according to Jon Machota of The Athletic. The injury appears to be significant as owner/president/general manager Jerry Jones told the media that, while Hankins may make a return for the playoffs, “he won’t be back before then.” The foreseen absence has led the team to place Hankins on IR. Any starts or playing time for Hankins will likely be taken by a combination of Neville Gallimore, Quinton Bohanna, and Carlos Watkins for the remainder of the regular season.
- The Cardinals also lost a defensive lineman to a significant injury last week when defensive end Zach Allen injured his hand in the third quarter of Monday’s loss to the Patriots, according to Charean Williams of NBC Sports. Allen underwent surgery on his hand that will keep him out this week against the Broncos. When asked about Allen’s prospects to return this season, head coach Kliff Kinsgbury responded with uncertainty. Allen is headed to free agency at the end of this season and, after a strong showing last year with four sacks, five tackles for loss and 14 quarterback hits, Allen improved greatly in his contract year tallying 5.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 19 quarterback hits. Arizona doesn’t have much depth on the defensive line, so Jonathan Ledbetter will likely earn the start opposite J.J. Watt this week while the Cardinals may need to elevate some reinforcements from the practice squad.