Miami Dolphins Preview: Branden Albert
The Miami Dolphins prized free agent acquisition last off-season came to the team exactly as advertised. From day one, offensive tackle Branden Albert came in providing the leadership and stability the Miami Dolphins were looking for when they signed him. Unfortunately his minor durability issues became more serious this year, and questions surround whether he will be available for the start of 2015?
Albert started nine games in 2014 for the Miami Dolphins at left tackle. In the eight games he was able to finish, he helped lead a Miami offensive line that was making considerable progress in comparison to the previous year. He was particularly impressive early on as he provided the veteran leadership to withstand the loss of center Mike Pouncey in the first four games of the year. Albert was a quality blindside protector and savvy vet in the run game until his season was prematurely ended by a torn ACL in his knee. His injury led to a game of musical chairs up front and a clear regression of an offensive line that clearly missed him dearly at the end of the year.
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The 2015 season starts with watching Branden Albert continue to rehab his knee through the off-season. Meanwhile, he and the team remain optimistic he’ll be ready for the start of the season, manning Ryan Tannehill‘s blindside. With a young player lining up next to him at guard with either Dallas Thomas or rookie Jamil Douglas flanking his right, Albert’s veteran presence and leadership will be much needed as a stabilizing force.
The challenge for Albert will be regaining his pre-injury form, as the knee injury he sustained was pretty serious. His knee is completely reconstructed and the rehab time on that type of injury will take him through the preseason to work his way back from. The question is, will he stay on track and avoid setbacks? And if there are set backs, who fills his role? Ja’Wuan James again, having him move out of position at a detriment to his own progression? Or Jason Fox, who played LT during his career with the Miami Hurricanes?
Ultimately, Albert will work his way back onto the field because he has that kind of determination but the optimism has to be met with skepticism. The left tackle needs to knock off a considerable amount of rust as he works himself back into shape during the early going of the season. This far out from the start of training camp, it’s a little early to project when he can return to the field, but in this case the PUP list has to be on the team’s radar as well as multiple contingency plans should Albert be delayed in his return or just not ready to suit up. In the end, Branden Albert is easily one of the most important players on the team with a crucial role, the Miami Dolphins will need him if they hope to make it to the playoffs this year.
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