Replacing Crowder

It surprised absolutely no one when Dolphins coach Tony Sparano confirmed on Wednesday that inside linebacker Channing Crowder is out for the season with a right foot injury. However, just because the news was expected doesn't mean it lessens the blow.

Crowder, who saw a specialist Tuesday, was placed on injured reserve and is still trying to determine whether surgery will be required.

"Right now there are still some more tests that are going on," Sparano said. "Certainly some swelling and all those things they've got to work through."

The Dolphins haven't replaced Crowder on the active roster yet, but signing rookie J.D. Folsom from the practice squad is the leading option. Folsom, a seventh-round pick out of Weber State, played one game this year, Nov. 8 at New England, making a solo tackle on the opening kickoff.

Veteran outside linebacker Charlie Anderson moved inside during drills at Wednesday's practice.

Akin Ayodele will replace Crowder as the primary signal-caller on defense, with veteran backup Reggie Torbor likely to make his third start in Crowder's place Sunday against Pittsburgh.

With Crowder going down two plays into Sunday's loss to the Texans, it means he will essentially miss a quarter of the season. The former University of Florida star also sat out two mid-season division road games (Jets and Patriots) with a shoulder injury.

Officially, Crowder will have missed nine games over the past three seasons after going the distance his first two years.

Crowder signed a three-year extension last spring. He made $1.5 million this season and is due to earn salaries of $2.1 million next year and $2.5 million in 2011.

Crowder finishes the season with 51 tackles, currently fifth on the team but a large drop from the 96.5 tackles he averaged his first four years in the league. He also had his first professional interception Dec. 6 to seal a win over the Patriots.

SERIES HISTORY: 20th regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series 10-9. Pittsburgh has won the last three meetings. Miami holds a 2-1 postseason edge, which includes a 45-28 victory in the AFC Championship Game at the end of the 1984 season.


-- Coming off shoulder and ankle surgeries, offensive guard Justin Smiley "had a tremendous road to recovery," Sparano said of the players' choice for the Ed Block Courage Award.

"At one point his leg's in a cast, his arm's in a sling," Sparano said. "He was really through the wringer at that point. I can remember looking out on the field (this offseason) and seeing the guy running when everybody else was gone."

-- Vontae Davis was still beaming Wednesday over the announced Pro Bowl selections. San Francisco's Vernon Davis, older brother of the Dolphins' rookie cornerback, was chosen as the starting tight end for the NFC. It will be the first Pro Bowl trip for the older Davis, who had been considered a disappointment through his first three seasons but enjoyed a breakthrough in 2009.

"I love my brother with all my heart and I'm very proud of him," Vontae Davis said. "That was his goal, to get to the Pro Bowl. I say he deserves it."

-- Left tackle Jake Long was the Dolphins' only Pro Bowl choice. This marks the second time in as many years that Long was selected, although as a rookie he was an alternate. That first selection bumped up the total value of Long's contract by several million dollars. It's believed this selection will do something similar.

-- The Dolphins have faced 10 of the 13 AFC skill-position picks for the Pro Bowl this season. The only players they missed are RB Ray Rice and FB Le'Ron McClain, both of the Ravens, and Denver WR Brandon Marshall.

-- The Dolphins' rushing production dropped 13.4 percent on a per-carry basis in the 4 1/2 games Jake Grove missed. The running game averaged 4.63 yards per carry up to the point of Grove's injury at Carolina, and that figure dropped to 4.01 YPC during his absence (152 carries for 609 yards).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I eat good. No, I don't eat good. I eat lousy, but it's fun." -- Dolphins coach Tony Sparano on how he tries to avoid burnout.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- Years in which the Dolphins have been shut out in Pro Bowl picks (1980 and 1997). This is the second time in three years they have had just one player selected. Jason Taylor was named but did not play in 2007.

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