Miami Dolphins tackle Terron Armstead is once again sidelined due to injury. A dominant lineman when he is healthy, Armstead has had more than a career’s worth of injuries keep him from being able to play; in 11 seasons in the NFL, he has never played every regular season game in a year and he has averaged just 10 games a season. Armstead missed the first two games this year due to back, ankle, and knee issues, returned for Week 3’s game against the Denver Broncos, then had his leg caught under a couple of players during the team’s Week 4 contest against the Buffalo Bills. The good news is, it was not the same knee that caused issues last year or this year. The bad news is, it appears Armstead will be sidelined for at least the next several games.
“It looks to be weeks not days,” head coach Mike McDaniel explained on Monday. “We have to kind of see how everything settles down and then we’ll be able to make a better prognosis for that timeline here in a couple days, by the end of the week or so. But I can say that he won’t be playing in the next game, but he will be playing again this season.”
McDaniel then confirmed Kendall Lamm, who started the first two games of the year at left tackle, returns to the starting lineup in place of Armstead. “Kendall has done a tremendous job this season,” McDaniel explained. “I did see him do a good job in this past game. I also did see a difference that he would attest to that when you’re preparing all week to be the starter or you’re getting 20 to 30 percent of the amount of reps. That’s nature of the business for a lot of guys. When you aren’t starting, you have to be the best version of yourself. I think that he kind of holds himself accountable to being as good, if he is getting starter reps or not, so that’s something that he can chew on moving forward. But I have all the confidence he’s played his tail off and is a huge part of our room. I know nobody on offense has anything but confidence in his play and him being there.”
Injuries have not only hampered Armstead when it comes to Miami’s offensive line. Starting center Connor Williams has missed playing time dealing with a groin injury, leading to backup guard Liam Eichenberg to speed up his conversion to center. Of Eicheneberg’s play, McDaniel said, “Center is a funny position in terms of it is pretty remarkable that outside of one kind of snap that was kind of a lollipop, he executed things – the only way teammates can actually perform is if he executes, and he did it with an ease that shouldn’t be understated with regard to making calls. We didn’t have any declaration issues and the snapping process.”
It was not all positive for Eichenberg during the game, and McDaniel pointed that out as well, adding, “There are definitely some plays that he wishes he could have back. Some that were particularly in pass protection where he’s kind of getting adjusted to the speed with which games happen and then at the center position, the defender is literally right on top of you. You don’t have the space like the rest of the linemen do between you, so it just happens a little bit faster. There are a couple things that he will learn from and get better from. It was a solid first game starting at that position that the coaches want him to get better and learn from it, and I know he does too. So it was a good starting point to build from.”
The Dolphins offensive line has played solid football this year, but they struggled against a relentless pass rush from the Bills - a pass rush that often was coming with just four players, freeing up the rest of the defense to cover Miami’s receivers. The defensive linemen were disciplined, and they were determined to either get to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or to muddy his passing lanes. Tagovailoa has multiple passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, tipped off target, or thrown inaccurately as he tried to avoid linemen.
Miami’s offensive line needs to do a better job of keeping the pressure off Tagovailoa, and keeping the defensive linemen from having the freedom to get their hands into the passing lanes. With Armstead out, the line will take a step backwards, though Lamm may be able to keep it from being a huge step back. If Williams continues to be sidelined, Eichenberg has to get used to starting at center in a hurry.
McDaniel seems to think the line will be fine as Lamm with Lamm at left tackle, and potentially Eichenberg continuing to start at center. They will need to prove his faith is properly placed starting this week against the New York Giants.