The Miami Dolphins appear to have an isolated COVID-19 situation, one day after veteran backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list.
No additional Dolphins players or coaches missed Friday’s practice as the team continues its final preparations for the season finale on the road against the Buffalo Bills at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“We’ve taken every precaution. We followed the protocols. As far as close contacts, we’re in good shape from that standpoint,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said Friday.
Still, the Dolphins will be without their valuable backup quarterback in a must-win game and will rely on rookie starter Tua Tagovailoa with the playoffs on the line.
“I was disappointed,” Flores said after learning Fitzpatrick tested positive this week.
“Look, he’s a big part of the team. Disappointed for him more than anything. I know how important this team is to him. At the same time, we’ve dealt with adversity throughout the season whether it’s COVID, whether it’s injury. We’ve had guys out in multiple games and recently. We’ll just push forward and give our best effort on Sunday.”
Fitzpatrick’s 16th NFL regular season effectively ended with his positive test.
Fitzpatrick, who has never played in a playoff game during his career, must sit out at least 10 days following a positive test.
And if the Dolphins make the playoffs with a win at Buffalo, or a loss by three other teams, Fitzpatrick’s availability could be in question.
If the Dolphins’ playoff game lands on Saturday, Jan. 9, Fitzpatrick would be unable to play.
If it falls on Jan. 10, a Sunday, Fitzpatrick could be available but would have to travel separately from the team.
Tagovailoa, who is 6-2 and will make his ninth career start, will backed up by quarterback Jake Rudock, who was signed to the team’s 53-man roster on Thursday.
Rudock has bounced on and off the Dolphins practice squad in each of the past two seasons.
The Dolphins also have practice squad rookie quarterback Reid Sinnett available if necessary.
Sinnett was elevated to be backup quarterback against the Jets on Nov. 29 when Fitzpatrick started in place of Tagovailoa, who had a thumb injury at the time.
It is unclear whether the Dolphins, who typically have two quarterbacks active on game days, will go into the Bills game with three quarterbacks.
— Dolphins leading receiver DeVante Parker completed the practice week Friday and is questionable to play against the Bills.
Parker has been dealing with a hamstring injury he suffered against the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 13. He has missed the past two games.
— Dolphins receiver and return specialist Jakeem Grant, who appeared to be laboring due to a high ankle sprain running routes at the start of Friday’s practice, was a limited participant for the second straight practice.
Although Grant is questionable to play, it’s likely the Dolphins will replace him in the return game with two rookies. First-round cornerback Noah Igbinoghene will likely handle kickoff returns, while seventh-round pick Malcolm Perry handles punt returns.
— Dolphins defensive end Shaq Lawson, who did not play against the Raiders last week due to a shoulder injury, appeared to be practicing at full strength on Friday. He is questionable to play against the Bills, who drafted him in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft.
— Dolphins rookie offensive lineman Solomon Kindley, who is dealing with knee and foot injuries, also finished the practice week as a limited participant and is questionable for Sunday.
Due to Kindley’s injuries, it’s likely the Dolphins will continue playing with the same offensive line they played with in the past two games, featuring left tackle Austin Jackson, left guard Ereck Flowers, center Ted Karras, right guard Jesse Davis and right tackle Robert Hunt.
— Dolphins safety Bobby McCain, who played in the past two games despite an ankle injury and was limited in practice this week, was able to fully participate in Friday’s practice. He doesn’t have a questionable designation for the Bills game.