Sad to see...Back ailment threatens season for Miami Dolphins' Porter
Posted on Mon, Aug. 25, 2008
The opener looms, and as the days draw closer to the start of the Miami Dolphins' regular season, Joey Porter becomes more concerned he won't be part of the team's much-hyped New Beginning.
He's worried he's closer to a career ending.
On Monday, the Dolphins spent some practice time doing work for that opening game against the New York Jets. Porter was absent from practice. Again.
He was visiting a doctor -- again -- trying to get a fix on a mysterious back ailment that has him, and the team, fearing he's going to miss portions of this season, including the opener.
''He's motivated, but he's kind of upset that he can't be there,'' fellow Dolphins defensive veteran Jason Ferguson said. ``And he's worried he's not going to be there that first day.''
Porter badly wants to be there that first day because the first game is against an AFC East rival, and the bitter taste of last season's first game still must linger.
Remember that 2007 opener?
The Dolphins and Redskins were in overtime when a gassed Porter was summoned to the sideline. With Porter playing cheerleader instead of outside linebacker, the Redskins marched for a winning field goal by outmuscling Miami's defense.
Porter was livid afterward.
And he's not too thrilled now at the possibility, if not the likelihood, he will be sidelined for this season's opener as well.
''He's very frustrated,'' teammate Akin Ayodele said. ``We talk to him all the time, but Joey is going to do what Joey has to do and coach [Tony Sparano] will handle it.''
The Dolphins are handling it by making plans for the extended absence of a player who has had trouble practicing on consecutive days and hasn't been pain-free for a month.
So on Monday, the Dolphins put Charlie Anderson back in the starting weak-side linebacker spot. And they are experimenting with rookie defensive end Phillip Merling as the backup -- a contingency that has the feel of a long-range answer to a long-range problem.
''I'm getting a reasonable amount [of work] with ends and linebackers,'' Merling said. ``They said I might be going out there a little bit as a backup to learn the position. It's going pretty good. I'm learning from Joey and the coaches.''
The problem here is Porter isn't paid to coach. He's paid to play.
And he wants to lead.
With the departures of Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor, Porter saw himself filling the Miami defense's leadership void.
But as Porter has missed practices and playing time, younger Miami defenders have looked to other players for leadership.
'YOU FEEL PRETTY BAD'
Porter, meanwhile, is looking at a career that seems to be slipping from his grasp even as he makes a courageous attempt to hold on.
''If you're that vet going down the hill, you feel pretty bad,'' Ferguson said.
So Porter continues to search for a tangible answer to his mysterious back ailment. He has considered shots, surgery, anything to assure a part of Miami's New Beginning.
But increasingly, it looks like the team will start without him.http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/fo...ry/657578.html