Miami Dolphins

With Branden Albert injured, Dolphins’ line could struggle against dangerous Bills

Miami Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert is helped by trainers during a game against the host Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015.
Miami Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert is helped by trainers during a game against the host Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. AP

It took Jared Odrick less than three seconds to wreck the Dolphins’ game.

Imagine what Jerry Hughes could do in that time.

On the Dolphins’ penultimate drive Sunday, as they were backed up in their own end, Odrick sped past backup left tackle Jason Fox to sack and strip Ryan Tannehill at the goal line.

Miami recovered the fumble, but the drive was doomed. The Jaguars kicked a winning field goal on the next drive.

Fast-forward a week, and the challenge is even steeper. The Bills have one of the league’s best defensive lines.

And Fox again could be the one protecting Ryan Tannehill’s blind side.

Branden Albert missed his second straight practice Thursday after straining his hamstring Sunday. There are real concerns about his availability for this weekend’s home opener against Buffalo.

“I’m day by day, just taking it one day at a time,” Albert said. “Hopefully I’ll be out there soon. We’ll see.”

Albert, who is still just 10 months from tearing his ACL and MCL, said this is the first hamstring injury of his career. He acknowledged that it might be a result of his long layoff from football.

In an ordinary situation, the Dolphins might be best served sitting him through their bye week. But after losing in Jacksonville on Sunday — and with the rest of the AFC East looking surprisingly strong — the Dolphins might not be able to afford to rest him.

17Sacks allowed by Dolphins in games Albert played in last season

29 Sacks allowed by Dolphins in games Albert missed last season

Fox also allowed a quarterback hit and a hurry in 49 snaps after Albert got hurt Sunday. But the play everyone will remember was the sack he surrendered to Odrick, Fox’s teammate in 2014.

Odrick blew past Fox’s outside shoulder andgot to Tannehill almost immediately.

“Obviously, that can’t happen,” Fox said. “I can’t let that happen at the end of the game. … I tried to be aggressive with him. It wasn’t the right time to do that.”

Asked if it was a “live and learn” situation, Fox responded: “It goes deeper than that, but I’m going to put it on myself.”

If Fox struggles again Sunday, other options available to the Dolphins include moving Ja’Wuan James from right tackle to left, or playing Jeff Linkenbach, who filled in for Albert briefly in the season opener.

“That’s what I’m here for,” Fox said. “Branden’s a great player but I prepare every week like I am the starter. I want to be here and help this team win.”

He added: “They have one of the best pass-rushing groups in the NFL. But when this offense is clicking, I’d take this offense over everybody’s. I think we just need to worry about ourselves and get us back to playing at our best.”

Asked what changes when Albert is out and Fox is in, James responded: “It doesn’t at all. We know we’ve got to go out there and pass-protect, go out there and run-block, and do what we have to do.”

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin added he’s “very confident [with Fox], if that’s the way it ends up. He’ll be ready to go, we’ll be ready to play. We’ll have a good plan to execute against a very good defensive team.”

Philbin did stipulate the team hasn’t decided who’s going to play where, but pointed to Fox’s strong performance in practice as a reason for confidence.

Statistics from a year ago suggest cause for concern, however. With Albert healthy the first half of the 2014 season, the Dolphins allowed just 17 sacks. In the final eight games, with Albert gone (he started Game 9 but was injured early), they surrendered 29.

“It was a win for me, just playing in the first game, just finishing,” Albert said. “This last game, we were getting momentum and I got hurt. It was frustrating for me because I’m not helping my team. It’s part of football. I just have to keep grinding and keep pushing.”

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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