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Dolphins Sign Nate Garner

Posted Mar 19, 2013

Veteran brings stability to a young offensive line for Miami.

PHOENIX – This is the time of year when key players depart via free agency and teams need to fill that vacancy and that’s precisely what the Miami Dolphins accomplished today.

Miami re-signed versatile offensive lineman Nate Garner on the heels of losing left tackle Jake Long to the St. Louis Rams. There is still time left in free agency and of course next month’s NFL Draft to further address the tackle position, but bringing Garner back into the fold definitely is a good start.

“We are happy that Nate has reached an agreement to stay with the team,” Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland said. “He is a respected and versatile player along the offensive line and we are glad to have him back.”

The 6-foot-7, 325-pound Arkansas native has played every position along the offensive line for the Dolphins and started the last four games of last season at right tackle. His solid play on that side of the ball made it easier for rookie Jonathan Martin to move to left tackle after Long was put on Injured Reserve with a torn triceps.

Garner originally was a seventh-round draft choice of the New York Jets in 2008 but he was waived at the end of training camp and the Dolphins claimed him off waivers. He was inactive for all 16 regular-season games and the AFC Wild Card game but made an impact in 2009 at the Carolina Panthers on a Thursday night when he started at left guard, moved to center and right guard during the game and even lined up as a tight end in the Wildcat formation. Now he gets to take the next step with the team he has grown comfortable with.

“There were a few other teams involved but I wanted to stay here,” said Garner on a conference call with the South Florida media. “I’ve got a house here, this is where I’ve been the last five years, I’m very comfortable here and I love the coaching staff so I’m glad to be back. I think we’re going in the right direction and I’m looking forward to seeing how we do this year with all the moves we made.”

A broken foot suffered during training camp in 2010 landed Garner on Injured Reserve for the entire season but he returned healthy in 2011 and added much needed depth to a young offensive line. Last season his role became a little more important after the Dolphins drafted right tackle Jonathan Martin in the second round out of Stanford and the two developed a chemistry, especially after Long was lost for the season.

Coming into this season, Garner is prepared to line up wherever Head Coach Joe Philbin, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and offensive line coach Jim Turner ask him to, but he is aware of the void created by Long’s departure and the opportunity that gives him.

“Right now I’m just going through the year like I do every year,” said Garner on a conference call with the media. “I wish Jake the best and I’m going to miss him a lot because he’s a great presence in the locker room, in the meeting room and on the playing field. I think we definitely can be better as an offensive line. Jake is going to be sorely missed but I think we’ll recover and move on down the road and just try to get better as a unit.”

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