DAVIE – Right guard Jermon Bushrod and tight end Julius Thomas have been placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Rookie undrafted free agent tackle Eric Smith and second-year tight end Thomas Duarte have subsequently been promoted to the active roster.
Bushrod missed the Dolphins’ last four contests with a foot injury and the Dolphins have elected to shut him down as a result. Gase lauded him for his toughness and willingness to practice through pain as the team continued to lose players to injury.
“He was one of those guys – we counted on him to be there every day and he pretty much was. … When we first talked about when he came back about vet days [days off from practice] and things like that, he never got any because we didn’t have enough guys. Everybody kept getting hurt, so he had a good streak going there of no days off.
“But he was one of those guys who’s always great in the locker room, guys respect him, he’s done a lot of different things, he’s played multiple positions with me in Chicago. Coming here he was basically in a sling and he believed in me when I said ‘Hey we’re moving you to guard.’ And he told me he would be able to do it. That meant a lot to me, the fact that he took a shot on that because he could’ve easily gone somewhere else.”
Thomas’ season comes to an end after putting up 41 receptions for 388 yards and 3 touchdowns. While Thomas wasn’t as productive as Gase envisioned, he managed to heap praise on his starting tight end, and didn’t lay blame solely at his feet.
“I thought he tried to do what we asked him to do,” Gase said. “He’s a better run blocker than what he was when I had him at a young age [in Denver]. There’s one thing I think he took out of Jacksonville: he was put in that position, and it was either adapt or die; he got better in that area.
“I wish we would’ve gotten the matchups we were looking for more often. We just didn’t really get what we were hoping for. We didn’t have enough attempts in the red area to really utilize him. … That’s really where he was effective. When we get in the red zone and we get a safety or a linebacker and just isolate him.”
Smith initially made the Dolphins’ 53-man roster but he was placed on IR with a knee injury Oct. 3. Duarte, who has just one career game under his belt, has been on the Dolphins practice squad all season, but he will finally have an opportunity to show he has improved since his rookie season.