Written by Matthew Cannata at 8:30 AM EST | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
With Branden Albert’s season ending injury that he suffered on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, the offensive line will be slightly re-vamped to make up for his absence.
The first change we’ll see if rookie Ja’Wuan James moving from right tackle over to left tackle. Joe Philbin, who said that injuries are part of the game, said that he thought James held up well on Sunday when he made the switch during the game and although it wasn’t perfect, overall it was good.
“He’s a good athlete. He’s an athletic guy. He’s a smart guy. Again, you have to be able to make a switch like that in the middle of a game when you have seven offensive linemen dressing. Again, those guys weren’t perfect, but I thought overall they held their own pretty well.”
Philbin mentioned that there were several things that are different when moving from the right side to the left side but mainly, it has to do with comfort level and the ability to adjust.
“Players like to feel comfortable. I don’t know, it’s almost like a switch hitter in a baseball, but it’s not the same. Certainly, I’m throwing out a number that maybe he’s got 520 snaps as a right tackle in the National Football League, so he may have a certain level of comfort with some of the techniques and fundamentals that he has to execute at that position from that particular side. So now, his feet are a little bit different. He’s working maybe with a little different guy that maybe he’s not as used to working with. There’s some subtle things that are important in switching from right to left.”
At left guard, we’ll see Shelley Smith and on the right side, we’ll see Dallas Thomas playing the tackle position. Thomas had been getting reps at all of the different positions on the line over the past two years and Philbin is confident that he is ready for his next challenge.
“I like what he’s done, I really do. He’s clearly much, much further along than he was a year ago. We have a lot more confidence in him. Just his ability in one game to play left guard and then flip over and play right tackle, and function relatively well speaks a lot to his level of preparation, his intelligence, those types of things. I think he’s making good progress. I like what he’s done.”
Some have been wondering where rookie Billy Turner fits in with all of this. While Philbin mentioned that he has the experience at left tackle from his college days, it doesn’t appear that he is going to be cracking the starting lineup, at least this week.
“The nice thing is Coach (John) Benton and Coach (Jack) Bicknell have given him reps at both. He doesn’t have any game experience yet at tackle in the NFL. I think we kept him at guard during the preseason and obviously he had a ton of reps at tackle in college. Luckily, he has the body type where he can maybe be a swing player.”
One of the reasons for that is because of the short week and turnaround before the Dolphins play the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night. Philbin said that it’s just part of football and they all need to step up and get the job done.
“Well, it was even a shorter (adjustment) when it was between two plays. It’s going to feel like an eternity with four days (joking). But that’s part of football. Ja’Wuan (James) has always gotten a little bit of work here and there at left tackle. Dallas (Thomas) has gotten some work over his year-and-a-half here. We’ll make it work. We’re going to make it work.”
Of course, it’s going to be extremely difficult to replace Albert on the line and Philbin understands this. He had nothing but praise for him and is confident that he’ll return stronger than ever in 2015.
“Branden has been a great addition to the football team and an excellent representative of the organization. He’s a pro. He’s a professional guy. He’s a good person, number one. He was a hard worker. He enjoyed being around. He liked being part of the team. He always had an upbeat positive attitude. He was a good guy to have around. He worked at his craft hard. He would get out there early and do some things on his own. I thought he set a great example for the younger guys. He’s a good man.”