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Martin And Garner Toe The Line

Posted Dec 2, 2012

Injury to Pro Bowl left tackle puts both linemen in the spotlight.

Consistency on the offensive line had been one of the bright spots of this season for the Miami Dolphins as the same five guys lined up for virtually every snap.

That was put to the test today from the first quarter on after Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long left with a triceps injury. Rookie tackle Jonathan Martin quickly moved from the right side to the left, where he played throughout his college career at Stanford, and Garner came off the bench to man the right side.

“I’m a little rusty because I haven’t played that side in several months,” said Martin, who protected Andrew Luck’s blind side in college. “It’s like muscle memory. You’ve just got to remember how it feels but it’s one of those things where you take a couple of reps and you feel good again. With practice I can be a lot better because I was making some mistakes that I made as a freshman in college but (left guard) Richie Incognito helped make the transition a little easier today.”

Late in the second quarter, Martin and Garner really felt the heat as the offense was backed up to its own 5 following a holding penalty on tight end Anthony Fasano and a false start on wide receiver Brian Hartline. The two locked down the edge on their respective sides to create a clean pocket for rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill on 1st-and-25. He settled in and delivered a 14-yard strike to Fasano and then Garner sealed off the right edge on a running play to help Reggie Bush gain 16 yards.

Everyone inside the offensive huddle felt a rhythm being created at that point and Tannehill, Bush and the offensive linemen realized that the two tackles were going to respond for the rest of the game. Tannehill finished off the 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive with a 2-yard rushing touchdown, diving over Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard at the goal line and into the end zone. That made it a 17-10 game at the half and seemed to settle the offense down.

They both did a great job,” said Tannehill, who completed 13-of-29 passes for 186 yards and added 19 rushing yards and five carries. “Changing sides as a tackle is not an easy thing to do, especially when you’re focused on one side going back to April. So for him to be able to move to the other side and for Nate Garner to come in and take over the right side was big. They did a great job and I think they got settled in more as the game went along.”

Center Mike Pouncey could hear the communication between Incognito and Martin at the line and in addition to teaming with Incognito to block big Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork, he sensed a calm on the line after Long went out. His confidence in Martin and Garner was a strong as Incognito’s and Tannehill’s.

So at the end of the game the second-year player out of Florida was not surprised at how well Martin played on the left side. He was hoping that performance would have come in a win instead of a tough loss.

“Jonathan Martin was a great pick for us and he’s obviously been playing well for us all season,” Pouncey said. “He went over to the left side and played great for us today. We missed a lot of opportunities, they made more plays than we did today but I think Jon’s going to be all right over there.”

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