But it's not all bad news. If ever there was a team ripe for a letdown, it's the Panthers, who will be playing on the road in a short week after signature victories at San Francisco and against New England. Then there's the issue of star defensive end Charles Johnson, who was scheduled to have an MRI on Tuesday after sustaining a knee injury in the game against the Patriots. Johnson leads the Panthers in sacks, so that's obviously a story to follow.
On to some observations:
-- As Jeff Darlington of the NFL Network and NFL.com is reporting, Mike Pouncey apparently will try to play through pain and discomfort instead of having surgery to deal with a gall bladder issue. The Dolphins don't have to produce an official injury report until Wednesday, but word is he was not at Tuesday's practice. There's no question the Dolphins are a better team with Pouncey in the lineup, but the performance of Nate Garner at center against San Diego was solid and Sam Brenner also did good work at left guard. Whoever lines up on the offensive line, it's going to be a tough challenge against a very good Carolina defense.
-- It's disappointing to see cornerback Dimitri Patterson continue to have groin problems. The guy has had a tremendous season whenever he's been on the field, but he's had problems staying healthy.
-- On the other side, Brent Grimes is having just a tremendous season. He should be a strong candidate for the Pro Bowl and also for NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Remember that he signed only a one-year deal in the offseason and the Dolphins should try to get him re-signed. Then again, the Dolphins always could slap the franchise tag on him next spring.
-- When it comes to Pro Bowl candidates, along with Grimes, you'd have to think punter Brandon Fields also would have a strong shot.
-- Offensively, Daniel Thomas might have had his best performance of the season against San Diego. He ran with authority and also had the 1-yard plunge for a touchdown. As much as fans want to see Lamar Miller get more and more carries, there's nothing wrong with having two quality options. Either way, it doesn't matter as much who's getting the carries as it does how good the blocking is up front. The San Diego game certainly proved that.