Dolphins tight end Adam Shaheen will miss Sunday’s home game against the Carolina Panthers, creating a potential opportunity for rookie Hunter Long.
Long, the team’s third-round pick in April’s NFL Draft, has played only 29 offensive snaps because he’s stuck behind Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Shaheen — and to a lesser extent, Cethan Carter, who can play tight end and H-back.
“Hunter has done a good job practicing over the course of the year,” coach Brian Flores said. “He’ll get an opportunity. He’s a young player, trying to improve and get better. He has a lot of talent potential.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into playing in this league, particularly tight end. There’s blocking, there’s route running, [pass] protection. He’s doing a lot of good things in practice and developing. It’s a deep tight end room. He’s learning from those other guys. He will get an opportunity this week.”
Also out this weekend: cornerback Trill Williams, who sustained a hamstring injury in practice this week and safety/special teams contributor Elijah Campbell.
Flores addressed other issues in his Friday news conference:
▪ Dolphins safeties Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones were limited in practice this week, and Flores was noncommittal about whether they would be able to play Sunday.
Holland is dealing with knee and ankle injuries, Jones with ankle and elbow injuries.
UPDATE: Jones was listed as questionable for Sunday. Holland wasn’t given an injury designation in the final injury report and will play.
Flores was noncommittal about whether center Michael Deiter — who returned to practice this week — will be activated from injured reserve before Sunday’s game. He has missed seven games with a foot injury.
Austin Reiter, Greg Mancz (who remains on injured reserve) and Cameron Tom have played center in Deiter’s absence.
▪ Flores said he expects that linebacker Elandon Roberts will be available Sunday; he was limited this week with a hip injury.
Flores said receivers DeVante Parker (hamstring) and Will Fuller (finger) are getting closer to a return but won’t play this weekend. Both remain on injured reserve and eligible to return at any time.
▪ On the addition of former Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay, who was claimed off waivers from Houston on Wednesday:
“Philip is a guy that has had a lot of production in this league. We’re excited to have him join our team. We’re going to get him acclimated to the way we do things here, get him up to speed on the playbook, terminology.”
Is it safe to say that playing Sunday would be difficult because he has been here only a day?
“It’s safe to say it’s hard to get someone ready in one practice and one walk through,” Flores said. “We’re going to get him up to speed [as quickly] as possible. It’s not an easy thing to do.”
Lindsay averaged just 2.6 yards on 50 carries for Houston this season but has averaged 4.6 per carry in his four-year career, including 5.4 during his rookie season for Denver, which ended with his one Pro Bowl appearance.
Asked if Myles Gaskin is still the team’s primary running back or whether it will be a weekly competition with Gaskin and Lindsay (and Salvon Ahmed, Patrick Laird and practice squad player Duke Johnson), Flores said: “Each has a different skill set. Each can help us different ways. All are selfless. There’s always competition. The game plan will dictate how much and how little guys are in there.”
▪ Flores said linebacker Vince Biegel, signed to the 53-man roster this week to replace the injured Brennan Scarlett, “has looked good in practice the last few weeks, is moving around well.”
▪ Is receiver Preston Williams still the same player since his foot injury last November and subsequent less serious injuries?
“Physically, he looks the same,” Flores said. “He’s been out quite a bit. The fundamentals, techniques, you’ve got to work to get those back. He’s still working to get all those fundamentals back. He’s in a good place right now. Anxious to see what this looks like over the second half of the season, last six games.”
Williams has five catches for 67 yards in five games, including three starts. He has played 135 snaps on offense.
▪ Flores confirmed that getting defensive lineman Zach Sieler more snaps is “a conversation we’ve had. Get him 8 to 10 more snaps. Combine that with maybe taking 8 to 10 snaps off somebody else. We’ve got a few guys there we like.
“Zach has done a good job with the snaps he’s been given. I like the role he’s in right now, been productive in that role.”
Sieler is averaging 28 defensive snaps a game. He has 38 tackles, including four for loss this season. Pro Football Focus ranks him 11th among all NFL interior defensive linemen this season.