Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins LT Laremy Tunsil may miss minicamp because of injury

Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil is making the move from left guard to left tackle this season.
Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil is making the move from left guard to left tackle this season. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Miami Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil may miss all or part of the team’s mandatory minicamp this week because he has been nursing a leg muscle injury.

Tunsil’s injury is not serious. If the Dolphins were playing this weekend, he would play.

But the team will examine him Tuesday morning to determine if he is 100 percent healthy. If trainers determine he is anything less than 100 percent, coach Adam Gase may decide to hold Tunsil out of the pads and helmet contact practices scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The reason Tunsil might be kept out is precautionary. The Dolphins would simply be trying to remove any risk of Tunsil re-aggravating the injury, which could affect him being ready for the start of training camp in late July.

If Tunsil cannot participate in minicamp, as he missed the last week or so of OTAs, his place with the starting offensive line will be handled by Sam Young.

Young is Miami’s backup at both left and right tackle at the moment.

And while this -- again -- is not a serious injury matter, it does highlight a situation the Dolphins may have to get comfortable managing if Tunsil misses any games during the 2017 season: The team will have effectively gone from a situation of relative strength in managing the left tackle spot to one of lesser certainty.

Last year, the Dolphins had Branden Albert as the startiung left tackle and Tunsil, who started at left guard, could take over if Albert was injured. In that regard, the team had two starting caliber left tackles.

Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil talks about how the SEC prepared him for playing in the NFL and about playing the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 7, 2016.

But with Albert traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a seventh round pick last spring, the Dolphins now must rely on Tunsil as the starter with Young as the backup.

And while the Dolphins expect Tunsil to be an upgrade over Albert, it is quite obvious if he’s unable to play all 16 games, the Dolphins will have taken a significant step back at the position because Young is not a starting caliber player.

(Young is fine as a fill-in and was good enough last season in that role. But if he has to play three, four, five games at left tackle, the drop in productivity at that spot may become noticable.)

Young, obviously, has been working to hold up his end. Although he has said he doesn’t take the backup job for granted, he definitely is an experienced option. He is starting his eighth NFL season.

“I think my goal is just to continue to get better,” Young said last week. .”It might be a cliche, but I think that every day I’m looking to improve, looking to fill wherever the coaches put me, whether it’s right, left, they need me to play quarterback. I don’t think that’s likely, but I’m just trying to help and continue to get better each and every day.”

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