TOUGH BLOW FOR FIEDLER

Jay Fiedler has endured his share of bad breaks since taking over as the Dolphins' starting quarterback, but his latest setback might be the most frustrating of all.

Fiedler underwent surgery on Monday to stabilize a fracture of his right thumb and he will miss at least a month of action, and probably more.

Dolphins head athletic trainer Kevin O'Neill said Fiedler would be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis after a month has passed.

That means the earliest Fiedler could be back would be the Nov. 17 game against Baltimore.

Fiedler was injured on the Dolphins' second-to-last drive during their 24-22 Sunday night victory at Denver when his hand hit a helmet after he threw a short pass to Ricky Williams.

Fiedler tested the hand on the sideline during a timeout and decided he could continue playing. He wound up throwing six more passes after being injured and completed three of them, including key connections to Randy McMichael and Dedric Ward that set up Olindo Mare's game-winning field goal.

"Initially, I thought it was just a bruise," Fiedler said, "but the more I continued playing I felt a little bit of looseness in the joint. But as long as I was able to grip it strong and throw the football, I was able to work through any pain that was in there."

This certainly wasn't the first time Fiedler had demonstrated his willingness and ability to play through pain. Just think back to the end of the 2000 season when he played a few games with a separated left shoulder.

"I'm just out there playing football and trying to win games," Fiedler said. "I'm not doing it to earn respect, but I realize that comes with it; fighting through pain and being able to execute and win a ballgame with some adversity."

What makes this injury more frustrating is the fact the Dolphins are off to a great start and Fiedler is playing the best football of his career.

"I definitely have a lot of disappointment," Fiedler said before undergoing surgery. "It was a great victory to be a part of last night, but certainly having to be out for however many weeks is going to be disappointing."


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