The Miami Dolphins came out of their third preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons primarily unscathed, but backup tight end Joey Haynos did suffer a foot injury that could force him to miss much or all of the 2010 season.
Playing as the tight end on the left side of the line in the fourth quarter against Atlanta, Haynos came out of his two-point stance, took a step, and immediately fell to the ground in pain. He was not engaged with or touched by an opposing player on the play.
The initial prognosis is not good, as head coach Tony Sparano says Haynos will be out "a little while" (coach-speak for quite a long time) and Haynos was seen this weekend with crutches and a walking boot up to his ankle.
Many observers, myself included, fear it may be an injury to Haynos' Achilles' tendon, which could force the third-year tight end to miss the entire season. An MRI has not yet taken place to confirm the damage.
Undrafted out of Maryland in 2008, Haynos was signed by the Dolphins off the Green Bay Packers' practice squad early during his rookie season. He appeared in seven games for the Dolphins that year and caught two passes for 22 yards and a touchdown.
Haynos moved into the No. 2 tight end position in 2009 after an injury to veteran David Martin, catching 19 passes for 162 yards and two scores in 16 games (eight starts).
Initially thought to be retaining the No. 2 job behind starter Anthony Fasano in the coming season, the Dolphins surprisingly re-signed Martin after a year away from the game on Aug. 6. Martin has essentially locked down his former spot in two tight-end sets.
Prior to his injury, Haynos appeared to be the favorite for the No. 3 spot at tight end. Last year's No. 3—Kory Sperry—was waived on Aug. 23 and has since been picked up by the Broncos, while 2009 fifth-round pick John Nalbone spent all of last season on the practice squad and has yet to impress.
With Haynos potentially out for an extended period of time, it is possible the team opts to place him on season-ending injured reserve. I do not expect them to carry him on the active roster even if there is a chance at late-season return.
Despite the injury to Haynos, I do not expect Nalbone to make the Dolphins' active 53-man roster to begin the regular season. He's simply not good enough and a No. 3 tight end isn't a necessity in the offense.
Instead, I expect the Dolphins to scour the waiver wires after final cuts for a better No. 3 option. If there is none to be had, I'd say the Dolphins will roll with two active tight ends and another one or two on the practice squad.
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