DAVIE, Fla. (Nov. 21, 2005) -- Dolphins coach Nick Saban expects to be without defense leader Zach Thomas for two or more games.
"It's safe to say he's going to be out for a couple of games, I don't know," Saban said of the middle linebacker, who separated his right shoulder on Nov. 20 at Cleveland.
Thomas' status for the rest of the season was not known as doctors evaluated the severity of the injury sustained in the first half of the Dolphins' 22-0 drubbing at the hands of the Browns.
Saban said the seriousness of Thomas' injury would determine options, ranging from playing in a shoulder harness to having surgery. The Dolphins play at Oakland on Nov. 27.
Thomas, the club's leading tackler and its vocal and emotional sparkplug, got hurt trying to hit Browns rookie quarterback Charlie Frye. Thomas charged Frye and attempted to wrap his arms around the QB, who got off his throw.
There was minimal contact, but Thomas immediately grabbed his forearm and headed toward the sideline while grimacing in pain.
Thomas has led Miami in tackles in eight of the past nine seasons, has made five Pro Bowls and is the longest-tenured Dolphin. He has 123 tackles and two sacks this season.
Saban said the team would likely use rookie Channing Crowder at Thomas' middle linebacker position, with reserve Donnie Spragan stepping in at outside linebacker.