It's been a long and hard road, filled with pain and trials that only someone who's recovered from the injury before can attest to, but for the first time all offseason, the Miami Dolphins star left tackle Branden Albert returned to practice at full speed on Tuesday.
“I’m back doing everything,” Albert said before practice began on Tuesday. “I’m not going inside (to rehab). I’m doing everything with the team.”
Albert, who had torn both his ACL and his MCL on Week 10 of last season against the Detroit Lions, has battled long hard after his surgery for nine months, slowly progressing and getting his legs back under him so he could return to practice full time after merely taking a few individual drills during practices and then going back inside to rehab.
The Pro Bowl left tackle never got put onto the physically unable to perform list, but he was extremely limited during practices and for a time was beginning to worry fans regarding his status for the regular season.
However, with the return of Albert to full-speed practice, there is once again hope that he'll be ready to go when the season starts, which is what Albert is still aiming for.
“I’m very happy; it's been a long time coming,” Albert said. “But I’ll be real happy when I return on the field on Sundays (for the regular season).”
Needless to say, someone who's excited to see Albert back on the field is quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has been sacked 139 times since his rookie year began.
“It’s great. I was giving him a hard time in the weight room earlier today, but excited to have him back out there." Tannehill said. "It's been great just to see him kind of work his way back over the past weeks and to have him out there full-time today is going to be great.”
Of course, going full speed doesn't mean that he got a full workload. The Dolphins seem to be doing the wise thing with their star left tackle and taking it slow with him.
"He looked good." said head coach Joe Philbin. "He didn’t get the same amount of reps as Mike Pouncey got, but he got in there and he competed.”
This was yet another huge step in Albert's recovery, and given how important he is to the line's success, taking it slow is the best thing for Albert to do. Even if he doesn't make it in time to play in Week 1, he really shouldn't be needed until Week 3 when the Dolphins face the Buffalo Bills.
When Albert gets back onto the field and can play in games, the offensive line will have the most important part of their lineup back, and then fans will be able to relax a little bit with the knowledge that their quarterback's blindside is well protected.
We brought him here for a reason. He had a great career while he was in Kansas City, but that’s why we wanted to bring him here." Tannehill said. "He lived up to that last year while he was on the field and unfortunately he had the injury, but he’s been battling his way back all offseason, in here working. I was in here February and March in the building, and he’s in here grinding away. I respected his grind that he’s had this whole year and I’m excited for him to be able to get back out.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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