The Miami Dolphins will be without a key reserve when they begin their stretch run this coming weekend. Backup running back Daniel Thomas injured his left ankle in Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers, and he is expected to miss several games.
Thomas is Miami's second leading rusher with 279 yards on 77 carries (a 3.6 yards-per-carry average), with three rushing touchdowns. He also has 12 receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Thomas is in his third year with the Dolphins after the team selected him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. His injury leaves the Dolphins very thin at running back behind regular starter Lamar Miller.
Marcus Thigpen and rookie Mike Gillislee will replace Thomas, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said Monday. Thigpen is a kick returner with only three carries total in his two-year NFL career. Gillislee is Miami's 2013 fifth-round draft pick. He has not been activated all season.
The Dolphins have struggled mightily in the rushing game since letting Reggie Bush walk via free agency last summer. As a whole the team is gaining 4.1 yards a carry, and they have failed to crack 100 yards rushing in five of 11 games so far this season.
The Dolphins face the New York Jets on Sunday. Miami, in a six-way tie for the AFC's final playoff spot, will play four division games in the final five weeks of the season. The Dolphins are trying to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.