Dolphins Sign Offensive Tackle Tyson Clabo

Posted May 5, 2013

Pro Bowl lineman provides more stability to Miami’s O-line

Not only did the Miami Dolphins shore up the depth on their offensive line by drafting University of Tennessee tackle/guard Dallas Thomas last week, but today they have added veteran offensive tackle Tyson Clabo to the roster.

The 6-foot-6, 329-pound Clabo was a Pro Bowler for the Atlanta Falcons back in 2010 and spent the last seven seasons with them, five of them protecting quarterback Matt Ryan from the right tackle spot. He is entering his 10th season in the league after being signed by the Denver Broncos in 2004 as an undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest and has started all 101 games that he has played in.

“We are happy that we have reached an agreement with Tyson,” said Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland. “He will be a great addition to the offensive line both on the field and in the meeting room.”

Miami was preparing to field a talented but relatively young offensive line in this, Head Coach Joe Philbin’s second season at the helm, after losing four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long to the St. Louis Rams in free agency. Clabo, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, brings proven experience and imposing size to the front five having also played left tackle at times during his career and should be a good presence for second-year left tackle Jonathan Martin to lean on.

Clabo also brings the added value of having appeared in the playoffs multiple times with Atlanta, including last year’s run to the NFC Championship game. The Falcons fought hard against the San Francisco 49ers before coming up short of reaching their first Super Bowl in 14 years (they lost Super Bowl XXXIII to Denver at Sun Life Stadium) and now he gets to reunite with another former teammate from Atlanta in cornerback Brent Grimes on an up-and-coming team.

“When I was released and became a free agent one of the first things that we wanted to find out was who had interest,” Clabo said on a conference call with the South Florida media. “Once we found out who had interest I sat down and I said, ‘What team do I think has youth and is on the move upward in the league?’ Miami was right there at the top of that list and so we decided that this was the place for us.”

In addition to the Falcons and Broncos, Clabo also spent some time on the practice squads of the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers in 2004. After being signed to Denver’s practice squad in December of that year he was allocated to the Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europa, waived by the Broncos in September of 2005 and signed to Atlanta’s practice squad. He spent the entire season there before being re-signed by the Falcons in January of 2006 and working his way into the starting lineup for 10 games in the 2006 season.

Come September 22nd at Sun Life Stadium, Clabo and Grimes will see their former team in Miami’s home opener when Atlanta comes to town. Of course Clabo was there in 2008 when the Falcons drafted Ryan in the first round and watched them add some attractive pieces around him like future Hall-of-Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez and first-round wide receiver Julio Jones. The Dolphins have done the same this offseason by signing free agent wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson and free agent tight end Dustin Keller.

“We’ve got a young QB with a lot of upside and I just felt like we could make some noise,” Clabo said. “We had a young quarterback (in Atlanta) at the time early and he turned out to be a pretty good player, so we have a young quarterback here and he has the potential to be a very good player. We have some guys that can take the top off the defense and be a vertical threat, we can run the football well and if you can throw the deep ball and run the ball you’ve got a good chance. So I think we’ve got a chance to do both of those things real well.”

During his college career with the Blue Demons, Clabo started 37 of 47 games and 36 consecutive at the end, earning first-team All-Atlantic Conference honors as a senior in 2003. His athleticism is one of his more impressive traits as he lettered in football and basketball at Farragut High School.

Clabo comes across as very grounded and eager to contribute while insisting he is not out to prove anything to anybody at the age of 31. He has experience in both zone blocking schemes with Denver when he came into the league and early on in Atlanta and in power blocking schemes in more recent years, but he remains his own worst critic.

“I always want to do well and that’s really my biggest driving force, is to feel like I did the job I was brought in to do and to have success,” said Clabo, who has a streak of 91 consecutive starts intact. “So I just work to reach those goals and so far it’s been pretty good for me so I’m just going to keep doing that. I was just happy when the phone rang and Mr. Ireland was on the other end.”

Miami’s first set of OTAs is scheduled for May 21-23, which is when Clabo will get to take the practice field in his new uniform for the first time and work on the field with offensive line coach Jim Turner.
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