The Dolphins lost more than a football game Sunday.
They lost Branden Albert, their starting left tackle — and arguably best all-around player — for the season with a significant knee injury.
On a pass play late in the second quarter, a player rolled the back of Albert’s right knee. He stayed down after the play, and a cart took him directly to the locker room. Although it is not believed he broke any bones on the play, he did sustain year-ending ligament damage and will presumably require reconstructive surgery.
Although the Dolphins would not officially say Albert was done, his teammates spoke as if it was a foregone conclusion. Albert will have an MRI when the team returns to South Florida. He was seen on crutches in the bowels of Ford Field.
“Branden is a real good friend of mine, a really great football player. You hate to see that happen to anybody,” Dolphins guard Mike Pouncey said. “Just trying to talk him through, my brother went through the same thing last year, and he came back stronger and better than ever. So this is just a tough time right now before the surgery. But as soon as he starts rehab, he’ll be all right.
“You hate to see that happen with these kind of players in this league. He has a long road ahead of him, but he’ll get back healthy because he’s a fighter.”
Albert has started every game this year and had been a rock on quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s blindside since signing a five-year, $47 million contract in the offseason.
When Albert left the game, Ja’Wuan James moved to left tackle, and Dallas Thomas moved to right tackle.
“It’s huge, man,” Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said. “Any time you see a guy go off on a cart, nine times out of 10, it’s not going to be too good. It’s a big loss to our team. Up to this part, I thought he was the MVP of our team, the way that he’s come in and kind of stabilized our line. It’s a huge loss for us, but we’ll make up for it. Ja’Wuan will step up and play.”