Miami Dolphins

Injuries, inconsistency plaguing Dolphins’ offensive line

Dolphins offensive tackle Branden Albert might not be able to play in Thursday night’s game at the Cincinnati Bengals because of an injured ankle.
Dolphins offensive tackle Branden Albert might not be able to play in Thursday night’s game at the Cincinnati Bengals because of an injured ankle. AP

With two starters injured and another coming off a late-game benching, the Dolphins are dealing with offensive line issues. And it’s happening at an inauspicious time, with Miami about to face a Cincinnati defense that is tied for the league lead with 12 sacks.

The Dolphins aren’t sure if left tackle Branden Albert or center Anthony Steen will play; both have ankle injuries. Neither participated in a light practice Tuesday.

Albert was noncommittal Tuesday. Steen said he expects to play. With Mike Pouncey still out with a hip injury, Kraig Urbik would play center if Steen cannot.

There was some measure of clarity offered Tuesday, when offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said Ja’Wuan James would remain the team’s starting right tackle even though he was benched in overtime against Cleveland after allowing a strip-sack late in regulation, as well as a glaring earlier error.

“He’s a good player, he’s a good athlete,” Christensen said. “The thing everyone wants out of him is for him to establish himself as an elite right tackle, be a leader. We are dying for guys who will be owners in this thing. He does a lot really well. I think he can be a premier right tackle in this league. The expectations are high on him.”

James said of his benching: “Of course I'm upset, just because the game was out of my control at that point, just watching from the sidelines.”

James said coaches told him Sunday “that the whole game wasn't overall bad, but you had two big plays that were. I respect [Adam Gase’s] decision. He holds everybody accountable.”

Asked who the team’s best offensive lineman has been this season, Christensen said: “Steen’s been a pleasant surprise. He’s played really steady.”

Christensen said he holds out hope of both Albert and Steen playing Thursday.

“I give him my credit card and those 1-800-healing numbers,” Christensen said. “Having two starters in the same predicament is extremely complicated and sensitive.”

Gase said Albert looked better Tuesday than Monday and “that’s encouraging,” but is unsure if he will play.

▪ Gase, on Miami’s first-round pick, right guard Laremy Tunsil: “He’s done a good job. I feel very comfortable with him in there. There have been a couple times he has made slight mistakes.”

THIRD-DOWN ISSUES

▪ Like last season, the Dolphins continue to struggle with third-down conversions, ranking 28th in the league at 30.3 percent. Christensen called that “sick, anemic.”

Overall, he said: “We’ve all taken turns screwing things up, starting with me. First interception [Sunday] was me on the play design. That wasn’t [Ryan Tannehill’s] fault. Everyone has taken their turn. We all have to play better. It’s not near good enough.”

▪ Defensive end Cameron Wake’s snaps increased from 16 against New England to 36 (of 82) against Cleveland, and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said “if Cam gets about 25, 30 snaps that’s perfect because you see if he’s fresh at the end of the game, he can close the game out.”

▪ The Dolphins gave no offensive snaps to a fourth receiver Sunday, and Gase said that is “nothing against” No. 4 receiver Leonte Carroo. “I like those three guys being on the field,” Gase said of Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills.

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