Let me preface by saying that I like Joey Porter. On the field. Off the field. As a Steeler. As a Dolphin. Whether sacking Carson Palmer or telling reporters exactly what he's thinking, one thing about J-Peezy is consistent. The man is entertaining.
Now to the clouds over Davie. The first bad news has descended on what was a previously perfect training camp.
Joey Porter has had two lingering injuries during the preseason. One of them just got bumped up the hierarchy of injuries.
Joey Porter’s nagging back injury may not only stop him from suiting up for Week One against the Jets; it may end his career.
Speculations abound and few actual facts are to be found anywhere. Talk from fellow players, especially veteran NT Jason Fergusson, was somewhat grim, however. He mentioned watching the end of Pepper Johnson’s career back in 1997. Not good to hear.
Porter has been an elite level player in the NFL for years. Last year, his play was somewhat diminished for the first handful of games before he finally came on strong towards the end. It was the play of Joey Porter, as well as Jason Taylor, that should be most recognized in the team’s lone, infamy-saving victory.
The news is doubly frustrating since most accounts of Joey’s offseason were great. The story out of early camp and OTAs was that Porter had packed on muscle and was right back at home playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Things looked good for the Pro Bowl linebacker and the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins are already somewhat shallow at the key, outside linebacker position. They have already had to convert DE Matt Roth to the strong-side linebacker spot, which, so far, he has done admirably. In the case of an extended absence of Joey Porter, the team would again have to look to an unproven player or turn to another convert.
As of Monday, the Dolphins had linebacker Charlie Anderson playing at the weak-side spot left vacant by Porter, who was visiting a doctor. The Phins have also started to work (last week) rookie DE Philip Merling at the OLB position. Merling is massive, but possesses decent speed and a huge wingspan that may assist him in coverage. It will have to help him make up for a lot of agility he will be giving up.
There is also second-year man Quentin Moses, who showed flashes of his touted pass-rush skills last week against Kansas City. Sparano has seemed reluctant to play Moses and has consistently turned to other solutions instead of giving Moses a shot.
The bottom line is that Miami seems to be preparing for the potential absence of last year's biggest free-agency splash. A healthy Joey Porter improves Miami’s defense by leaps and bounds. Without him, that secondary may really be tested this year.
Joey may be facing one of those life-altering decisions. As far as back injuries go, sometimes it’s not an issue of if something is physically possible, but rather instead becomes whether something is life-threatening if you do.
Think about the situation of a spinal injury that can be mentally and physically toughed-out, but also greatly increases the chance of permanent or fatal injury.
Things right now are shrouded in foreboding rumor. Something will most likely come to light by tomorrow afternoon. Until then, I sincerely hope J-Peezy is just in need of some downtime and can suit up next week.
One thing I will say is that he would be way too entertaining as a commentator to risk permanent damage. Not to mention the family and foundations that depend on him.
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