As Branden Albert carefully stepped off the stage at the Touchdown Club luncheon Tuesday, an ESPN graphic caught his eye on the TV overhead.
SportsCenter was discussing Albert’s coach, Joe Philbin — specifically, Philbin’s slipping grip on his job.
Albert simply shook his head. He wants so badly to help get his team on track. But his body might have different plans.
Albert remains, in his words, “day-to-day” with a hamstring injury that kept him out of Sunday’s loss to Buffalo. But there are real concerns that he might miss this weekend’s must-win “home” game against the Jets in London.
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Needless to say, this is not the return he had envisioned while rehabbing a 2014 knee injury that was more serious than even he let on at the time.
“I’m very, very frustrated, because for one, I know what people are going to start saying, I know what people are going to start insinuating,” Albert said. “It’s part of the process. If people understand the injury I have, it wasn’t just an ACL/MCL [tear]. I tore everything in my knee. I was out for 10 months.”
Albert continued: “I started running in the beginning of August. For me to play Game 1, and play the whole game, and play good enough to help my team and then go in the second game and start making progress, you ask a lot of football players, a lot of people in the world if they can do that. The answer’s no.”
Albert went on: “I [am] frustrated, but the coaching staff, the trainers, everybody’s supporting me, my teammates. I’ve never been through something like this. It was a learning experience for me, learning that things might happen, things that you’re not used to, things like this. I’ll move on, I’ll get better, and I’m going to help this team win.”
Needless to say, the timing of this setback is far from ideal. In a perfect world, Miami would again hold Albert out Sunday and let his pulled hamstring heal through the bye.
But the Dolphins need to win Sunday. They haven’t played close to expectations this season, dropping two consecutive games after winning their opener in ugly fashion.
And Albert’s replacement, Jason Fox, has struggled. He has allowed a strip sack, a quarterback hit and five hurries in 127 snaps this season.
Put it all together, and Albert understandably wants to get back on the field immediately. It’s the same instinct that drove him to return in time for the season opener, to the surprise of many.
On Tuesday, Albert acknowledged he might have pushed himself a little too hard to meet his personal deadline.
“Was I ready to come back for the first game? Who knows,” Albert said.
He later added that his knee “probably” could have benefited from another month of rehab before returning to action.
“But I felt like I wanted to play, I felt like I needed to play,” Albert said. “We were down numbers with [Jason] Fox out and I would probably be at 90 percent. I made the decision. I made the decision to play, it wasn’t nobody else. I want to get that clear.
“But you never know, [the hamstring injury] could have happened if I had another month of practice. You never know. The thing about it is it happened early enough, it’s nothing serious, there’s nothing wrong with my knee. That’s all that matters.”
He’s not that vocal guy like a Jim Harbaugh or a guy like that. ... Jimmy [Johnson] had us on pins and needles. You had to perform or you were out the door.
▪ Retired Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain held little back about this year’s team during a Q&A at Touchdown Club on Tuesday.
He challenged the current players to show the type of leadership that Dolphins such as Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas exhibited during times of crisis.
But he also said that “they’re taking on the personality of the head coach right now. Something has to change. It has to come from a player in the locker room.”
When asked whether Philbin is the right coach for this team, Surtain responded:
“I don’t know if there is a message. What’s the message? He’s not that vocal guy like a Jim Harbaugh or a guy like that. … Jimmy [Johnson] had us on pins and needles. You had to perform or you were out the door.”
▪ Miko Grimes’ arraignment is set for Oct. 27. Grimes, the wife of Dolphins corner Brent Grimes, faces two felony charges and a misdemeanor after allegedly head-butting a Miami-Dade police officer at Sun Life Stadium before Sunday’s game.
▪ Rishard Matthews, whose 262 receiving yards and three touchdown catches lead the team, moved past Kenny Stills and into the starting lineup in the Dolphins’ latest depth chart.
▪ The Dolphins have signed offensive lineman Mike Liedtke to their practice squad, according to his agent Brett Tessler. Liedtke spent training camp with the Dolphins.
▪ The Dolphins announced five new members of their 50th anniversary team Tuesday: Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Mandich and Dan Marino.