Written by Matthew Cannata at 11:15 AM EST | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
Ja’Wuan James will be the starting left tackle in tonight’s game due to the injury to Branden Albert. This will be James’ first career start at left tackle in the NFL and is going up against a tough Buffalo Bills defensive line. Despite that, James is ready for the challenge that awaits him.
“It’s going to be tough, but I’m willing to do it. I’m going to say it and I’m going to keep saying it, I’m going to do what the team needs me to do to try to help the team go out there and compete the best I can. Run blocking is always run blocking because you are going left-to-right, but the biggest is pass blocking. Just switching with your kick foot and all of that. It’s just the different techniques of using your post legs and things like that.”
Fortunately for James and the Dolphins, he played some left tackle during preseason and also some left tackle in the Lions game after Albert went out. James said that this will help him in tonight’s game.
“They (the Lions and the Bills) are very similar. They have good guys up front, very active up field, four-down defense. We have to go out there, just compete and do what we know we can, and, if we just focus on each play, then we will look up at the end.”
Other players on the team have confidence in James and believe that he’s going to do a great job transitioning from the right to left side. Ryan Tannehill said that James was part of the group that stepped up when the Dolphins needed it most.
“They stepped up. It’s a tough spot to be thrown into the fire at left tackle or even Dallas (Thomas) at right tackle, not really practicing at all during the week, I don’t know how long it’s been since Ja’Wuan has played left tackle. But for him to come in and play strong the way he did, obviously it’s not perfect, but he’s still learning. But just to be flip-flopped in the middle of the game, I thought he did a great job handling their pass rush and Dallas as well. The test isn’t going to get any easier this week, we’ve got a good D-Line (defensive line) coming to town. I’m confident in those guys and the way they’re preparing, the abilities that they have, that they can get it done.”
Mike Pouncey said that he’s been impressed with James, especially because he’s a rookie and has already done a remarkable job on the right side.
“I’m impressed with Ja’Wuan especially. He’s a rookie that came in and he’s obviously going to be filling in some big shoes on the left side. I think he’s ready for the challenge. When you lose a player like Branden Albert, you kind of have to figure things out, but I believe in our offensive line unit. Coach has been doing a great job all year. Hopefully, we won’t lose any stride on Sunday.”
Samson Satele said that because of Albert’s relationship with James and the way that Albert has taught James this season, he doesn’t see too much of an issue with the switch.
“I think he held his ground last week switching over from right tackle to left. He’s been, this whole season, (Branden Albert) has been that big brother to him, just getting him through the season. He saw what (Branden Albert) did in the first eight games and how he does his technique and stuff. So it’s probably an easy transition for him. We go against great guys here. I think we have the greatest defense in the league and him going against (DE) Cameron Wake every day will help him a lot. I know it’s the other side, but (Olivier Vernon) is not a push over too. OV is great. He’s such a great learner, coachable guy and he listens to vets. I think it will be an easy transition for him.”
James said that he’s been hearing from a lot of the older guys how important the game is for the team and even more because of the way the Bills beat the Dolphins earlier this season. He said that even with a short week, it’s going to be fun for him and it sounds like he’s ready to make some plays and keep Tannehill clean throughout the entire game.
"This is my first time. I’m excited. This is the first night game I get to plan in. I’m excited about that and I'm excited just to play in games. I’m the one who loves to play in games. Having two games a week, that’s almost fun for me.”
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