The Miami Dolphins’ receiving corps is banged up heading into Sunday’s game with the Buffalo Bills.
The Dolphins on Friday ruled receiver Davone Bess out because of a back injury, while listing fellow wideout Brian Hartline as questionable, also because of a back injury. Hartline, who has 1,002 receiving yards on the season, was a limited participant in Friday’s practice after sitting out Thursday.
He’s played in every game so far this season. Bess missed his first game of the season in last week’s 24-3 win against Jacksonville.
There is a huge drop-off in production for Miami receivers after Hartline and Bess. The team’s next-leading receiver is Marlon Moore, who has just nine catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
The Dolphins had been enjoying a season relatively free of serious injuries up until last week. Tight end Charles Clay and running back Daniel Thomas suffered season-ending injuries in Week 15. Even kicker Dan Carpenter is done for the season. He was placed on injured reserve Friday because of a groin injury. To take his place, the team signed former Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding.
In addition to Bess, the Dolphins also ruled out linebacker Koa Misi (ankle). Cornerback Nolan Carroll, who practiced Friday on a limited basis for the first time all week, is questionable with a knee injury.
Also questionable for Miami are defensive tackle Randy Starks, who didn’t practice all week because of a non-injury situation, and tight end Jeron Mastrud (hamstring).
It looks like the Bills will have center Eric Wood back on the field Sunday. Wood has missed the past two games with a partially torn MCL in his left knee.
“Barring any unforeseen setback, I’ll be out there on Sunday,” he said following practice Friday.
“Eric we’re going to list as questionable. He did a lot of work again [Friday], but I think we still need to list him there just in case there’s a flair up between now and game time,” coach Chan Gailey said, adding he was very encouraged by the progress Wood has made.
The Bills ruled defensive end Mark Anderson out. He was active last week against Seattle, but did not play. Anderson hasn’t played since getting hurt in Week Five against San Francisco. Gailey, though, would not rule him out of the season finale Dec. 30 at home against the New York Jets.
Linebacker Chris White (hamstring) and receiver Marcus Easley (hamstring) also were ruled out after missing practice all week.
Wood is the only player listed as questionable. The team lists 11 players as probable. They are: DE Mario Williams (wrist), CB Aaron Williams (knee), RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder), TE Lee Smith (back), DT Marcell Dareus (knee, wrist), FS Jairus Byrd (foot), CB Justin Rogers (foot), LB Nick Barnett (knee), DT Kyle Williams (ankle), G Andy Levitre (knee) and TE Scott Chandler (foot).
The Dolphins’ playoff hopes are faint, but not quite extinguished. To reach the postseason, Miami would need to win its following two games, have Cincinnati lose its last two, Pittsburgh to lose to Cleveland and the Jets to lose once.
If that scenario unfolded, the Dolphins would hold the tiebreaker over the Bengals and Steelers for the AFC’s playoff spot.
Here’s Gailey on the importance of finishing the season 3-3 in the AFC East, something the Bills haven’t done since the 2007 season, when they went 4-2.
“We keep talking about winning the last two, you have to win one before you have a chance at winning the last two,” he said. “I look at it as a positive to be able to finish the division .500, but you want to win these last two -- I don’t care who you play.”