Brenner Finding A Home On The O-Line

Posted Dec 20, 2013

Undrafted rookie has come a long way from the practice squad.

Five weeks ago it was rookie Sam Brenner getting the unexpected celebrity treatment in the postgame locker room, so he knows precisely how defensive back Michael Thomas felt last week.

Now Brenner is the starting left guard for the Miami Dolphins, completing his journey from the practice squad. His seamless transition to that all-important blind side of quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s is just as impressive as what Thomas did last week. Thomas came from San Francisco’s practice squad to make the game-saving interception of Tom Brady in Miami’s 24-20 win over the New England Patriots, so Brenner’s impact has not had as much pomp and circumstance.

“They’re doing a good job,” said Tannehill about Brenner and veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie. “The offensive line in general has kept me off the ground and given me time to throw, which has given us a lot of success, especially like you said the left side. Two new pieces that I think Bryant really has the offense down now and Brenner is several games in now as well so he is feeling good.”

During training camp and the early part of the season, Brenner made his presence known on the practice field and was solidifying a role as the possible backup center behind Mike Pouncey. When Pouncey was forced to miss the home game against the San Diego Chargers on November 17th, Brenner suddenly found himself in the starting lineup at left guard next to Nate Garner at center.

Brenner stood his ground all afternoon and continued his consistent play the following week against the Carolina Panthers before going back to splitting reps at guard with Garner at the New York Jets when Pouncey returned to the lineup. They continued to alternate in the first half at the Pittsburgh Steelers and then the coaching staff felt confident enough in Brenner to let him take the majority of the snaps in the second half. He started again last week against the Patriots and played the entire game.

“It’s been a great experience so far and mentally I just feel really prepared,” Brenner said. “It’s just made my transition that much smoother because we’ve got great coaches and we have a great scheme I believe in. So it’s just made my transition from practice squad up to starting that much easier because I’m prepared.”

Having a savvy veteran in McKinnie on one side of him and an accomplished center in Pouncey on the other side has been truly beneficial to Brenner. They have been able to share some tricks of the trade with him during games that have yielded positive results.

The Patriots had noticed a little tendency in how Brenner was coming off the ball at the snap in the first half that left enough of a crease between him and McKinnie for their pass rushers to get to Tannehill. McKinnie helped correct that glitch with a true veteran move.

“They were just running a pick stunt so he was just saying, ‘come off the ball with me a little bit so we can pick this up easier,’ and it worked,” Brenner said. “That’s just experience and something I wouldn’t have recognized so it was great to see it work and to find a solution in-game like that just coming from a veteran.

“He’s been huge with numerous things like that and just little things in the game that he’s noticed and all of the vets have been helping – Pouncey, John Jerry and Tyson Clabo. They’ve been really great passing on the knowledge to me and it makes my job a whole lot easier playing in between two great players like Pouncey and McKinnie.”

This Sunday will be Brenner’s second bad-weather road game when Miami plays at the Buffalo Bills, with the snowy game in Pittsburgh being his first. Now he has the confidence in himself that his teammates and coaches have had him for the past month.
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