DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) – The day after a devastating last-second loss to the Detroit Lions, the Miami Dolphins announced they have lost left tackle Branden Albert for the rest of the season, triggering a significant reshuffling in the offensive line.
Albert went on injured reserve Monday after being hurt in Miami’s loss at Detroit.
Albert has been perhaps Miami’s best offensive player this year, stabilizing a line that was awful in 2013. He’s in the first year of a $47 million, five-year contract that includes $26 million guaranteed.
“These types of setbacks are part of the game,” Albert said on Twitter. “I will tell you this, though: I will come back stronger and better. I have the utmost confidence in my teammates to finish what we set out to do at the start of the season.”
After Albert was carted off the field Sunday, rookie Ja’Wuan James moved from right to left tackle. Dallas Thomas moved from left guard to right tackle, and Shelley Smith took over at left guard.
The Dolphins (5-4) will likely use the same lineup Thursday against Buffalo (5-4), barring the return of left guard Daryn Colledge, who has missed the past two games with a back injury.
“What you saw is probably what you’re going to get,” coach Joe Philbin said. “Those guys weren’t perfect, but overall I thought they held their own.”
To fill Albert’s roster spot, Miami signed running back LaMichael James off the practice squad. James was a second-round draft pick by San Francisco in 2012.
The Dolphins totaled 228 yards and had 50 rushing, both season lows, in their 20-16 defeat at Detroit. Now they must brace for a Bills defensive front that dominated when the teams met in Week 2 and Miami lost 29-10.
The Bills lead the NFL with 34 sacks and had six Sunday in a loss to Kansas City.
Ja’Wuan James was a four-year starter at Tennessee before the Dolphins took him with the 19th overall pick in the May draft. He won a starting job in training camp, and is part of a unit revamped after Miami endured a franchise-record 58 sacks and a bullying scandal involving the offensive line last year.
James faces a learning curve at left tackle after playing only the right side in college.
“I thought at some point in his career Ju’Wuan was going to become a left tackle,” offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said, “but hoped it was going to be later than this, because nobody wanted this to happen now with Branden. But Ju’Wuan has a chance to be a really good player.”
Watch Miami take on the Buffalo Bills this Thursday at 8 p.m. on CBS4, your official Dolphins station!
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