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Injuries leave Dolphins thin at running back

The Miami Dolphins already put themselves in a bind at the quarterback position via injuries. Now, the same is happening at running back following Sunday's 35-17 loss to the New England Patriots.

Miami lost starting running back Damien Williams and reserve Senorise Perry in the game. Williams suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter and Perry went into concussion protocol following a big collision on special teams in the first half. Both are expected to miss future games.

The injury situation left Miami with just one healthy running back -- Kenyan Drake -- for much of the second half. According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Williams also will miss Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos but he hasn't been ruled out by the team.

“Right now we’ll keep evaluating," Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said. "I look at it as day-to-day, knowing him. He’s tough and what he went through yesterday was very painful. I’m not sure many guys would bounce back as quickly as he does."

It's easy at this point to play revisionist history and point out the Jay Ajayi trade. But the Dolphins decided at the October trade deadline that it was time to move on and swapped a fourth-round pick with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Miami likely will promote De'Veon Smith from the practice squad. He was called up briefly to the active roster for one week this month and can serve as a backup while providing help on special teams.

This could be a great opportunity for Drake to step forward. The former 2016 third-round pick has shown flashes. He has Miami's two longest runs of the season of 69 and 44 yards.

However, Drake also had a big fumble Sunday against the Patriots in the second half that thwarted any chance of a late comeback. Miami continues to go through growing pains with the second-year tailback.

Drake's issue in college was his inability to stay healthy. He suffered various arm and leg injuries at the University of Alabama. With Miami already thin at running back, it has never been more important for Drake to stay healthy down the stretch.

At 4-7, the Dolphins are a long shot to make a playoff push in December. But these final five games are key for the team to find out which players they can count on for 2018.

Drake has a chance to string together some big games and take advantage of his opportunities. That will go a long way to determining if he's a future starter and long-term solution at tailback.