The Miami Dolphins had a very solid offensive performance on Friday night against the reigning worst team in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers. The offensive line improved considerably over the week before when they fell flat against the Atlanta Falcons. While the line played better, the play of Lydon Murtha could be questioned as he was called for two false starts.
Today, the Dolphins got a boost to that offensive line when injured Jake Long returned to practice.
Long has spent his 2011 off-season nursing a shoulder injury that he suffered mid-way through last season and subsequently played through. Despite his injury, Long was named yet again to the Pro-Bowl. An invitation he declined due to health. Without the typical off-season in the NFL, Long was allowed to meet with team doctors but not the trainers for his rehabilitation.
Long has spent the opening of camp doing recovery drills that many in attendance have stated look far more intense than the practices. Long was kept off the field and was put on the physically unable to perform list prior to the start of camp. Head coach Tony Sparano stated on several occasions that Long’s absence from training camp was simply precautionary to give the veteran more time to recover and heal.
If all goes well in practice this week, Long could see a series in this weekends game but I suspect that Sparano will opt instead to keep his starting LT squarely on the bench for the remainder of the pre-season. Knowing full well that Long does not need time to get into game shape or rhythm.
Along with Chad Henne, Jake Long was pivotal in the player only workouts that started shortly after the NFL locked out the players. The Dolphins were one of the first teams to organize player only workouts and they maintained the workouts for most of the off-season.
Correction: Jake Long’s injury was a lower leg injury and not his shoulder.