March 19, 2013

Miami Dolphins to play in Hall of Fame game; team signs tackle Nate Garner

The Miami Dolphins will face the Dallas Cowboys in the preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game, the NFL announced Tuesday morning.

The Miami Dolphins will face the Dallas Cowboys in the preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game, the NFL announced Tuesday morning.

And they’ll do so with Nate Garner as a member of their team.

A day after Jake Long split for St. Louis, Garner, his backup last year, signed a contract that will keep him in Miami, the team announced.

“We are happy that Nate has reached an agreement to stay with the team,” said Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland. “He is a respected and versatile player along the offensive line and we are glad to have him back.”

Garner, 28, has appeared in 48 games in his career, starting 13. He is a valuable reserve, able to play multiple spots on the offensive line.

Garner started at right tackle the final month of the 2012 season after Long went down with a torn triceps muscle and played well for the most part.

He had interest from other teams, Garner said Tuesday, but he “wanted to stay here.”

It remains to be seen whether he’ll be the team’s starting right tackle in 2013. The team is actively looking at other options, which include Sebastian Vollmer, Andre Smith and possibly Brandon Albert via trade. But at the very least, they now have two tackles who actually started a game in 2012 (Jonathan Martin is the other).

“I think we definitely can [be better than last year],” Garner said. “Jake is going to be missed sorely. I think we’ll recover, move on down the road and get better as a unit.”

As for the Hall of Fame Game, the Dolphins will appear in the nationally televised event for the fourth time. They lost each of the three previous appearances (1978, 2001 and 2005). The Cowboys are making their fifth visit to Canton, Ohio.

Two honorees with Dolphins ties will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame the night before: Bill Parcells and Cris Carter.

Parcells, 71, is entering as a coach. He won Super Bowls with the Giants in 1986 and 1990, led the Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996 and directed the Jets to the AFC Championship Game in 1998.

He was the Dolphins’ executive vice president of football operations from 2008 through 2010, a controversial stretch in which he oversaw the greatest single-season turnaround in NFL history before quitting before his contract had expired.

Carter finished his 16-year career with the Dolphins, appearing in just five games in his final season as a pro. In all, Carter caught 1,101 for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns with the Eagles, Vikings and Dolphins.

By playing in the preseason opener, the Dolphins will be allowed to open training camp early, and will likely have a fifth preseason game.

Tickets for the annual showcase, held Aug. 4, went on sale Tuesday morning. More information is available at Prices begin at $52.

Also, the Dolphins received two compensatory picks for the 2013 NFL Draft late Monday: the 33rd pick in the fifth round (166th overall) and the 44th pick in the seventh round (250th overall).

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