The Miami Dolphins placed rookie left tackle Austin Jackson on injured reserve Friday, meaning he will miss at least three weeks and likely longer with a foot injury suffered in Sunday's loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
This is the most significant update amid a flurry of Dolphins injury situations ahead of Sunday's game at San Francisco. Miami also will be without starting defensive end Shaq Lawson (shoulder) and tight end Durham Smythe (knee) vs. the 49ers. Receiver Jakeem Grant is questionable after missing practice Friday with an illness that is not COVID-related.
Flores would not say whether Jackson will be able to return this season, but he indicated that he is looking for a "long-term replacement" for him, indicating his absence is expected to be longer than the three-week minimum injured-reserve stay. Jackson's injury has caused significant ripples throughout the offensive line and the team.
The most obvious position affected is quarterback. Flores did not discuss whether Jackson's injury had any impact on his decision to keep veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter vs. the 49ers, but it's likely the Dolphins will want to feel good about their offensive line before throwing Tua Tagovailoa into a football game for the first time since his devastating hip injury nearly 11 months ago.
Jackson, the No. 18 pick in the 2020 draft, was playing well locking down Fitzpatrick's blindside, and his absence could lead to multiple offensive linemen switching roles.
One option is simply elevating veteran Julien Davenport to left tackle and keeping the rest of the offensive line the same. The other option would be to move starting right tackle Jesse Davis to left tackle while inserting rookie second-round pick Robert Hunt at right tackle.
Flores said they have practiced a few different offensive line combinations this week, and he would need to review Friday's practice film before making a decision on which route he would take. Davenport played well finishing Sunday's game in place of Jackson, which might have helped his chances of being picked for the promotion.
The Dolphins did receive good news Friday with cornerback Byron Jones expected to play Sunday after missing the last two games with a groin injury. Jones was a full participant in practice Thursday and Friday and his return should be a big boost to the Dolphins' man-to-man defense that has been exposed at times in his absence.
Receiver DeVante Parker also does not have an injury status for Sunday, showing he's making good progress from a hamstring injury that has limited his explosiveness over the first month of the season.
Running back Salvon Ahmed was promoted from the practice squad to fill Jackson's roster spot.