The Miami Dolphins‘ offensive line has been the team’s most scrutinized unit all season. Giving up a league-high 37 sacks and paving the way for three of the worst rushing performances in franchise history tends to induce some frustration.
But, there’s proving to be no floor for the unit. Things could very well get worse this season as the hits just keep on coming. After starting right tackle Jonathan Martin went AWOL and starting left guard Richie Incognito was suspended for supposedly forcing him to do so, backup tackle Will Yeatman tore his ACL and MCL at Wednesday’s practice.
Yeatman had been active for all but one game this season for the Dolphins. Miami has lost three offensive linemen for presumably the rest of the season in two and half weeks time. Now, the Dolphins only have eight available offensive linemen on their roster, and only six available who have any sort of regular-season game experience, as guard David Arkin and rookie tackle/guard Dallas Thomas have been inactive every week of their respective careers.
If the Dolphins were to lose one of their starting tackles to injury, Nate Garner would likely be forced to move from starting left guard to fill the void, which would leave another at guard. The Dolphins could also elect to entrust Thomas at tackle in order to keep Garner put at guard, but the first-year player graded as the second-worst tackle in the entire NFL during the preseason according to Pro Football Focus, giving up three sacks in limited action.
In the event either guard suffered an injury or Garner was moved to tackle to fill in for an injured player there, Danny Watkins would likely be handed a starting position. Watkins, a former first-round pick, has started 18 games in his career and has experience playing in a zone-blocking scheme similar to Miami’s.
If anything happened to Mike Pouncey at center, the versatile Garner would once again be on the move. Garner’s ability to play most positions on the line is a huge asset to the Dolphins’ depth, but if he goes down, the team would be without a backup center and an experienced backup tackle.
Expect Miami to add another offensive lineman sometime soon. If the Dolphins have any hopes of rebounding from their embarrassing loss in Week 10 to make a run at the playoffs, though, staying healthy along the offensive line for the duration of the season will be absolutely pivotal.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.