DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Lost amidst the ugly story surrounding offensive lineman Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin is the team still has to prepare for Monday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without two starting offensive linemen.
The Dolphins will have to replace Incognito at left guard and Martin at right tackle. The Fins will start Bryant McKinnie at left tackle, Mike Pouncey at center, John Jerry at right guard, and Tyson Clabo at right tackle.
“Those guys aren’t here right now, so we can’t really keep dwelling on that, and we don’t want it to become a distraction,” McKinnie told CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald. “We have Tampa Bay next, and that’s what we need to be focused on.”
For McKinnie it’s been an especially wild ride over the past year. He’s gone from losing his starting job, to being a playoff hero, to losing his job again, to being traded to Miami and now the mess that he walked into in South Florida.
The Dolphins are expected to start Nate Garner at left guard in place of Incognito.
“We have players here that maybe no one thought could do it for us and hopefully they can do it,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said.
McKinnie, a more than 10 year veteran of the NFL, said he’s not sure it’s time for him to take a leadership role with the team because he’s so new, “even though I’m probably the oldest on the team.” McKinnie said he always thought Incognito and Martin were friends, “so it went way left for me.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said the key right now is to put the best five players on the field on Monday that gives the team the best opportunity to win.
“I’ve always found that players surprise you sometimes. Like in the last ball game, I told the guys that a couple guys they had to step up,” Sherman said.
Sherman said he thinks Garner played well in last Thursday’s victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. He called Garner a very adaptable player who can play center, guard, or tackle. “I have confidence that Nate will do a good job,” Sherman said.
Overall, Sherman said the team is excited about the opportunity against the Buccaneers and the game is actually a needed distraction at this point.
“It kind of takes your mind off things than maybe you on the outside think it is. We’ll definitely be focused on this football game,” Sherman said Monday.