was a Pro Bowler in 2012, but has been mired in controversy this year. (Marc Serota/Getty Images)
In a statement released Sunday, the Miami Dolphins expressed their continued support for tackle Jonathan Martin while downplaying the rumor that bullying from his teammates led Martin to take a sudden leave of absence.
"Our primary concern for Jonathan is his overall health and well-being," part of the statement read. "As an organization, we take any accusations of player misconduct seriously. The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally. The reports that the NFLPA is investigating our players are inaccurate. Additionally, the NFL offered its assistance during this time, which we appreciated and gladly accepted. We will continue to make Jonathan's health and well-being a focus as we do with all of our players."
Martin walked out on the team Monday, then reportedly sought mental health counseling. There has been no indication for when Martin will return to the Dolphins.
Multiple reports indicated that an incident in the team cafeteria led to his departure. According to FOXSports' Alex Marvez, Martin had been the subject of "persistent bullying and teasing from some teammates that has plagued him since joining Miami as a 2012 second-round draft choice." Meanwhile, ESPN reported that the NFLPA was reviewing guard Richie Incognito's role in that alleged "bullying" of Martin.
The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that while the NFLPA "has not launched an investigation," it is in "information gathering mode," so further examination may be forthcoming.
Even so, moments after the Dolphins put out their statement Sunday, Incognito took to Twitter to express his outrage over that ESPN report.
ESPN then issued another report by Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, this one stating that Martin "has not filed a formal complaint because he fears retribution, primarily from Incognito." Martin, according to ESPN, reluctantly provided $15,000 to Incognito to help fund a Las Vegas trip for some Dolphins players, "fearing the consequences if he did not hand over the money."
The Miami Herald's Adam Beasley added more details about a possible rift in the Dolphins' locker room. Beasley wrote that younger Miami players "are under pressure" to fund excursions for veteran players -- Beasley cited a recent team dinner in which a rookie reportedly was given the $30,000 tab, which amounts to about 7.5 percent of the rookie minimum salary of $400K.
Will Davis, a third-round pick of the Dolphins last April, disputed that a single rookie had to pick up that check:
Sans Martin, the Dolphins beat the Bengals
on Thursday night. They play again next Monday at Tampa Bay, and there currently is no reason to believe that Martin will be back for that game. The Dolphins could place him on the reserve/non-football illness list shortly.