MIAMI (AP) — With another season stumbling toward the finish line, the Miami Dolphins can begin thinking about 2019, and that includes Frank Gore.
The NFL’s leading active rusher is expected to miss the rest of the year with a sprained foot, a person familiar with the situation said Monday. The person confirmed Gore’s status to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t commented on the severity of his injury.
Gore was hurt during Sunday’s 41-17 loss at Minnesota . He has played in 126 consecutive games and made 122 starts in a row, and both streaks are the longest by an NFL offensive skill player.
Last week Gore, 35, said he was uncertain whether he wanted to play next year. That’s one of many offseason decisions looming for the Dolphins (7-7) now that they’ve been reduced to long-shot status in the playoff race.
“We’re outside looking in,” coach Adam Gase acknowledged. It’s a familiar position for the Dolphins, who have played only two postseason games since 2001.
Gase is 23-23 and likely to return for a fourth season. Less secure is executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum. A shake-up among Gase’s assistants is probable, with defensive coordinator Matt Burke most in jeopardy. A myriad of player personnel decisions will begin with whether to bring back quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
But first there’s a schedule to play out — at home Sunday against Jacksonville , and at Buffalo the following week.
“The difficult part right now is we can handle our business, but that’s doesn’t mean anything,” Gase said. “We’ve got other teams that can affect our season.”
Eight AFC teams have a better record in the race for six playoff spots. That means the Dolphins would need a lot of help to reach the postseason — plus a sweep of their final two games, which seems unlikely in the wake of the latest flop.
Minnesota manhandled Miami up front on both sides of the ball. Tannehill was sacked nine times, tying the franchise record, and the run defense allowed 220 yards.
The Dolphins fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter, closed within 21-17 early in the second half and did little right thereafter.
“That’s been the sad story of our woes this year — not being able to finish,” running back Kenyan Drake said.
It has been a team effort. The Dolphins rank 30th in the league in defense and 29th in offense, and they’ve been outgained by 100 yards per game — 1,402 total. The franchise record is 1,321 in 1967.
Also in danger is the team record of 383 yards allowed per game set in 2016, Gase’s first season. Burke’s defense has given up 402 yards per game.
Aside from chances to break negative records, the final two games will be little more than tryouts for next year. Among the players likely to get a long look will be fourth-round draft pick Kalen Ballage, one of the few bright spots at Minnesota with a season-high 123 yards rushing and his first career touchdown, which came on a 75-yard run.
Gore’s injury means more snaps for the rookie from Arizona State.
“I’m ready,” Ballage said. “Obviously you don’t want to lose somebody like a Hall of Fame running back. Frank can do everything. But I’ll just be ready to step into whatever role they need me to be in.”
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