Miami Dolphins starting left tackle Branden Albert has made an incredible comeback from tearing two ligaments in his knee. Just eight months into his rehab, Albert joined his teammates for the start of training camp today in Davie.
"The beginning was the most challenging, learning how to walk, learning how to do the simple things I've been doing all my life. All the little things I couldn't do," Albert said after Thursday's first practice of training camp. "I was praying. I just wanted to walk again. I told people I didn't think I was going to play football again, but now the time is here and I'm just happy to be here."
Due to Albert's relentless hard work rehabbing his knee, the team was able to avoid placing him on the physically unable to perform list. The 6’5” 320 pound tackle is not clear for full contact but if there’s anybody that’s happy to have him back it’s head coach Joe Philbin.
“Number one it was great to have him out there today,” Philbin said during his press conference. “I think it’s just good for him to get back in the football playing mentality. He's worked extremely hard to put himself in position to get back and contribute to this football team, that's a day-to-day process. I have a lot of faith in him."
With questions at the guard positions there’s no doubt Philbin wants the team’s best lineman on the field sooner than later. Ryan Tannehill has been one of the NFL’s most sacked quarterback since he entered the league. There’s no doubt that having Albert at 100% come game time is what everybody wants.
Until then, offensive tackle Jason Fox will be tasked with holding down the fort at left tackle until Albert can return to full strength, however long that takes.
"One day at a time. I told everybody it's going to be sooner than later," Albert said. "I'm just happy to be where I'm at, and I'm going to keep pushing."
Albert took up boxing in the offseason to try and get back into shape, and everything he's done thus far has helped him to slowly progress back to being who he was before the injury. But until he's ready, he'll be offering his assistance in other ways.
“I’m involved with the team; I’m not off on the side no more like a stepchild,” Albert said. “I’m happy I’m in the situation that I’m in. I feel blessed. It’s been a long, long road.”
And the road isn't over yet. The story of the Tortoise and the Hare has a very viable truth to it. Slow and steady wins the race, and in the NFL, it's more of a marathon. Albert will pace himself, and as a result, he may not return right away, but the chances are much greater that he comes back to form.
This story was written by Carlos Hernandez. Follow him on Twitter: @LosDez
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