Channing Crowder is looking at missing his first game of the season this Sunday. Crowder spent Friday’s practice standing on the sidelines watching his fellow Miami Dolphins practice. Crowder was dressed in his jersey and a pair of sweat pants while the team practiced with “iced” balls and blaring crowd noise through loud speakers in the bubble.
Crowder is in a contract year and this go around with an injury in the final stretch is not going to go over well with the higher-ups. Crowder missed considerable time last season as well and this group of power players in the front office don’t like players who can’t stay healthy.
Michael Lehan was placed on IR in week 5 when he could not get over a hamstring injury. He was waived two weeks ago off the IR. Yeremiah Bell the roaming free safety is due for a new contract as well as his will expire after this season and the Phins who acknowledge they want to keep him have yet to start negotiations on a new deal. The reason? They want to make sure he can make it through a full season first.
That does not bode well for Crowder.
Should Croweder be unable to play on Sunday the Phins will hand the defensive communication helmet to Akin Ayodele and move Reggie Torbor into the starting lineup with Ayodele. Torbor was signed in free agency and has contributed mostly on special teams but he started the last 6 games for the NY Giants last season after injuries moved him into the lineup. The Giants of course won the Super Bowl….against the not to be 19-0 Patriots.
With temperatures possibly dipping into the single digits on Sunday, the team has used a spattering of techniques to get ready for the game. As mentioned above, throwing ice water on the balls just before the snap to give the center and QB the feel of a frozen ball. Unfortunately, ice water is not what the team will face on Sunday when the “pigskin” will indeed be a “rock”.
The Dolphins are playing things a little smart with Chad Pennington. Over the last couple of weeks the Phins have moved center Samson Satele to the RG position and are using Al Johnson as the center. Tony Sparano said that he anticipates more looks this week for Johnson so Pennington and Johnson are practicing their exchange.
A good thing for sure as the cold weather will cause havoc in the game’s exchanges, both between center and QB and QB and RB. That says nothing about throwing the solid piece of leather where catching the ball will be like catching a weight. If there is good news out of all this it’s that both teams will have to endure the wrath of mother nature.
The Kansas City Chiefs practice both indoors and outdoors depending on the weather and while it can’t be confirmed immediately that they have spent their practice time in the elements this week, the daytime temps in KC the last few days have been in the mid-20′s which will not be the weather on Sunday. Today the weather is a balmy 28 degrees and the Phins will get their first shock of the season when they land in KC. Tomorrow, both teams will wake to the shock of the lower teens.
The ball will be hard to handle for sure and the league leading Dolphins in committed turnovers will be hard pressed to continue their close to perfect season of holding onto the ball. The Kansas City Chiefs are the 4th ranked NFL team in take-aways so this could be an ugly game for both teams. It goes without saying in this one that that the team that holds onto the ball will come away a winner.
Both teams will try and get out to an early lead, build a small cushion and then try and run the ball and run the ball some more to get the clock to tick away. Neither team is going to find these temps enjoyable. With over 77,000 expected to attend the frigid game the Dolphins will be battling more than just mother nature but a sea of red as well.
For Channing Crowder who has stood nearby and listened to the sounds of screaming fans blare down upon them from the speakers in the warm practice bubble, this game may be especially horrid if he is standing on the sidelines listening to the roar of one of the loudest stadiums in frigid weather. Perhaps in the back of his mind he will be seeing that “fortune” he might have been looking forward to in a month or 2 start to freeze as well.