Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Wanted. Five healthy players to man the Miami Dolphins offensive line.
The Miami Dolphins open the regular season against a very tough Houston Texans defense and are doing so with an offensive line may feature a guard who almost ate himself off the team and a left tackle who may not be 100 percent.
The Dolphins lost guard Artis Hicks to a neck injury and have been working on replacing him all week. Dolphins All-Pro left tackle Jake Lone sprained an MCL in his right knee a week ago, but said he will be ready to go against the Texans.
For Miami, the loss of Hicks is the more pressing issue. The right side of the offensive line was expected to be a work in progress with rookie Jonathan Martin manning the right tackle position. However, Hicks, who is a veteran, may have helped ease the process along.
Instead, the Dolphins may go with former third-round pick John Jerry at right guard. Jerry arrived at training camp weighing 360 pounds, though according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, has lost 24 pounds since then.
But, the Dolphins want to have more athletic players along the offensive line and Jerry, while large, may not be able to do all of the things the Fins need him to do in the team’s new zone blocking scheme. But, that’s what the Dolphins have been left with heading into Week 1.
Plus, the Dolphins are not sure if Jerry can even go against the Texans. He suffered an ankle injury in the final preseason game, according to the Sun-Sentinel, and my not be ready to play.
Assuming Long is healthy, four out of the five starting spots on the offensive line look to be set. Jake Long will start at left tackle; Richie Incognito at left guard; Mike Pouncey at center; and Martin at right tackle; leaving the right guard job open. If Jerry can’t go, the versatile Nate Garner may be asked to fill in at guard.
The need for depth along the line was never more evident that in the first game of the season. The Dallas Cowboys lost their starting center and inserted backup guard Ryan Cook into the game and he filled in well enough to help the Cowboys beat the Giants. Incidentally, Cook was acquired from the Fins last week.
All of it has to making rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill a little nervous as he prepares to stare across the line at Brian Cushing and J.J. Watt.
The Dolphins-Texans game will kick off at 1 p.m. and can be seen exclusively on CBS4.