The first hit Jay Cutler takes from an Oakland pass rusher Sunday night will be watched closely. The aftermath will be watched even more closely.

Cutler, the Dolphins’ 34-year-old quarterback, plans to start Sunday’s game against the Raiders with a rib injury that was significant enough to keep him out of last week’s 40-0 loss at Baltimore. He said earlier this week his ribs remain sore at times.

With Cutler ailing and his movement and elusiveness likely limited, pass protection is at even more of a premium this week.

One hit, not even a big hit, could be extremely painful.

“We sure don’t need Khalil Mack coming clean or anything on him,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said of the Raiders’ All-Pro defensive end. “No quarterback does.

“But certainly we have to be conscious that it’s going to take even more strain than usual to protect him and keep him upright, which will be a challenge this week.”

Coach Adam Gase said there isn’t much he can do from a play-calling standpoint to protect Cutler and his ribs.