The Miami Dolphins will be without a backup defender and valuable special teams contributor for the season finale.
Dolphins linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill will not travel with the team Saturday due to an illness and miss Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
Grugier-Hill’s illness is not related to COVID-19, according to a league source.
That distinction is important regarding the Dolphins after veteran backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
Fitzpatrick will also miss the Bills game, leaving former St. Thomas Aquinas standout Jake Rudock as the Dolphins’ backup quarterback behind rookie starter Tua Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins (10-5) need a win at Buffalo to clinch a playoff berth. If Miami loses, it will need a loss by the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens or Indianapolis Colts on Sunday to reach the postseason.
Grugier-Hill, who played in all 15 games this season, became the second linebacker the Dolphins will be without this week. Starter Elandon Roberts suffered a significant knee injury against the last Vegas Raiders last week that will keep him out for the rest of the season.
Behind starting inside linebacker Jerome Baker, the Dolphins will depend on second-year backup Sam Eguavoen, who played a significant defensive role in all 16 games last season, and special teams contributor Calvin Munson to play against the Bills.
Edge rushers Kyle Van Noy and Andrew Van Ginkel round out the Dolphins linebackers group.
The Dolphins enter the game with four players questionable to play against the Bills due to injury:
— Leading receiver DeVante Parker is expected to play after missing the last two games due to a hamstring injury.
— Starting defensive end Shaq Lawson is expected to play against the Bills, who drafted him in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft, after missing the Raiders game due to a shoulder injury.
— Receiver and return specialist Jakeem Grant has a high ankle sprain that may not allow him to play in Buffalo.
— Rookie offensive lineman Solomon Kindley, who started 13 games this season, is dealing with knee and foot injuries.
If Kindley does play, the Dolphins must decide whether to sit veteran right guard Jesse Davis. Left tackle Austin Jackson, left guard Ereck Flowers, center Ted Karras and right tackle Robert Hunt round out the offensive line.