Jake Long’s injury is not serious, Dolphins exhale

The Miami Dolphins had their biggest scare of 2012 earlier today when Jake Long left Dolphins practice after injuring his knee.  We all waited anxiously to hear the results of Jake’s visit to the hospital to find out the extent of his injury.  An injury to the Dolphins 4 time Pro Bowl Left Tackle was the last thing the Dolphins needed.  Jake’s injury came just 24 hours after the Dolphins angered many fans by trading Vontae Davis to the Colts.  Dolphins fans were angered because the trade essentially confirmed that the Dolphins are rebuilding this season.  In our poll yesterday, 22% of fans said they hated the trade, while less than 10% said they loved it.  The remaining 68% of fans that voted said they’d like the trade IF the Dolphins turned around and made a big move for a wide receiver.

Following Jake Long’s MRI, Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post learned that Jake ‘tweaked’ his MCL. Volin said that while Long might not make the Dolphin’s trip to Dallas for Wednesday night’s game, he is expected to be ready for week 1 against the Texans.  For Wednesday night, it appears that Jonathan Martin will take over at left tackle.  Martin played left tackle at Stanford and protected Andrew Luck’s blindside.  Martin has been working to learn how to play right tackle and will return to that position once Jake Long returns.

Long’s diagnosis of a sprained MCL is not the best news, but it certainly could have been worse.  According to Omar Kelly, Long said last week that he was completely healthy and hasn’t felt this good since his rookie season.  Hopefully Big Jake can get healthy and back on the field as soon as possible.  This is an important year for Long, since he is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.  He’s still an elite tackle, but injuries have bothered him the last few years.  It is important for him (and the Dolphins) to have a healthy Jake Long all season. Long is playing for his next contract and the Dolphins, if they are going to commit big money to him, must be sure that he’s not injury prone.

If Jake Long is healthy and able to play in the regular season opener, the Dolphins will obviously be ecstatic.  However, don’t underestimate the domino effect of his injury. With Long out, Martin moves to left tackle and Artis Hicks slides into the right tackle position.  This means that Martin is getting less time practicing and improving at right tackle. He’s also not getting time working next to John Jerry, who’s currently the starting right guard.  Until Long’s injury, the line had been pretty consistent, with Jerry and Hicks each working at right guard. Continuity is key on the offensive line, so hopefully this late change for the Dallas game won’t set them back to far.

Are you’re wondering why the Dolphins wouldn’t just keep Martin at right tackle and have someone else play left tackle?  I wondered the same thing until I learned that Ryan Tannehill will start against the Cowboys on Wednesday to get more reps.  I don’t think we want Nate Garner or Artis Hicks protecting our ‘People’s Choice’ QB’s blind side…do you?

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