The Miami Dolphins officially ended the season of left tackle Branden Albert on Monday when they placed him on injured reserve after a knee injury led to him being carted off the field during the team's game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Albert, who joined the team this year as a free agent, was playing at a Pro Bowl level this year, solidifying the backside of the Miami offensive line.
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, who met with the media on Monday, did not miss the size of the hole suddenly on Miami's offense. "It's unfortunate when any player sustains an injury. Branden has been a great addition to the football team and an excellent representative of the organization. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game."
"He's a pro. He's a professional guy," Philbin continued his thoughts of Albert. "He's a good person, number one. He was a hard worker. He enjoyed being around. He liked being part of the team. He always had an upbeat positive attitude. He was a good guy to have around. He worked at his craft hard. He would get out there early and do some things on his own. I thought he set a great example for the younger guys. He's a good man."
No official decision has been made on if Albert has to undergo surgery, Philbin noted, but stated, "I'm sure he will be back."
During the game, the Dolphins shifted rookie right tackle Ja'Wuan James to left tackle after the loss of Albert, and he held his own on quarterback Ryan Tannehill's blindside. "I would imagine what you saw (Sunday) is probably what you are going to get," Philbin explained. "I thought those guys hung in there and competed pretty well."
With James at left tackle, second year lineman Dallas Thomas moved from left guard to right tackle and Shelley Smith moved into the left guard position. Daryn Colledge, the normal starting left guard, missed his second straight game with a back injury.
"He's a good athlete," Philbin said of James when asked about his ability to change sides of the offensive line. "He's an athletic guy. He's a smart guy. Again, you have to be able to make a switch like that in the middle of a game when you have seven offensive linemen dressing. Again, those guys weren't perfect, but I thought overall they held their own pretty well.
"I thought he held up well. It wasn't perfect, but I thought overall it was good."
Philbin continued to discuss James' transition to the other side of the field. "I'm throwing out a number that maybe he's got 520 snaps as a right tackle in the National Football League, so he may have a certain level of comfort with some of the techniques and fundamentals that he has to execute at that position from that particular side. So now, his feet are a little bit different. He's working maybe with a little different guy that maybe he's not as used to working with. There's some subtle things that are important in switching from right to left."
The Dolphins only have four days to prepare for their next game, taking on the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football this week. While that short turn around between games, especially when rearranging the offensive line, could be imposing, Philbin points out the team is already used to having to make those quick adjustments. "Well, it was even a shorter (adjustment) when it was between two plays. It's going to feel like an eternity with four days," Philbin joked. "But that's part of football. Ja'Wuan has always gotten a little bit of work here and there at left tackle. Dallas has gotten some work over his year-and-a-half here. We'll make it work. We're going to make it work."
Miami promoted running back LaMichael James from the practice squad to fill the spot vacated by James. They kickoff Thursday night in Miami against the Bills at 8:25pm ET.