Miami Dolphins rookie linebacker Raekwon McMillan left the Dolphins preseason opener versus the Atlanta Falcons with an injury to his right knee. McMillan was injured covering a punt early in the first quarter.
McMillan was having an impressive training camp and by most accounts was projected to be the starting middle linebacker for the Dolphins. Similar to when Ryan Tannehill was injured there are multiple reports with a range of possible outcomes.
Miami has not released an official statement on the injury to McMillan, and when asked about it at halftime Head Coach Adam Gase was still gathering the details.
"“I still don’t know exactly what the injury is. Some kind of knee injury. I’ll find out more.”"
When asked about the injury after the game, Gase would not confirm initial reports of a torn ACL.
"“You must have better sources than I do,”"
At this point it is far too early to speculate on the severity of McMillan’s injury, but regardless Dolphins fans have to feel like the world is against them. To lose your starting quarterback and possibly your middle linebacker before the season begins is a tough pill for Dolphins fans to swallow.
The Dolphins cannot afford to lose depth at the linebacker position, one of the thinnest units on the team already. Considering the fact that Neville Hewitt and Mike Hull are significant special teams contributors, they may be forced to see more snaps on defense than usual. If the injury to McMillan is long-term the Dolphins will have to shuffle players around and may even look to sign another free agent.
Hopes were high for McMillan coming into the season and he had begun to grasp the nuances of playing middle linebacker quickly. He was already making defensive calls and was by far the most impressive rookie in camp thus far.
Once the Dolphins can confirm the diagnosis for McMillan they will have to act quickly. With the signing of Jay Cutler the team showed that they were willing to take action and make critical decisions to move forward. The middle linebacker is often referred to as the quarterback of the defense so the importance of the position cannot be understated.
Lawrence Timmons has played his entire career at middle linebacker and seems to be the logical choice to step back into that role. Kiko Alonso is set at one outside linebacker spot, Hewitt and Hull could possibly rotate at the other outside spot. If McMillan is out this group will be under even more pressure, and expect Miami to look outside their roster for depth and competition.