The native of Homestead had his sights set on winning the starting right tackle job last summer, but instead he was forced to sit out the entire season because of a foot injury.
The foot now is healed, and the quest has resumed.
“My goal is to be the starting right tackle for the Miami Dolphins, but I’m a firm believer that every position on that line is earned and isn’t given to me,” Murtha said. “I’ve still got a lot of work to do, fundamentally, the game plan I’m fairly confident in. The coaches have done an amazing job of simplifying it for us. It’s made football fun again. That’s a huge deal for us.
“I’m going to go out there and give it all I’ve got and at the end of the preseason hopefully I’m the starting right tackle.”
Murtha has been viewed as a promising prospect since the Dolphins claimed him off waivers from Detroit late in the 2009 season.
A seventh-round pick of the Lions in 2009, he acquitted himself pretty well when he started four games for the Dolphins in 2010 and would love nothing than to see what he could do as a full-time starter.
But Murtha wants to look ahead and doesn’t spend a lot of time wondering whether he could have landed that starting job in 2011 if not for his injury.
“I can think a lot of things, but ultimately it’s not up to me,” he said. “I still believe I would have had a good shot, but it didn’t happen. Coulda, shoulda.”
The injury made for a frustrating season for Murtha, who used the term “big time” to describe how difficult it was to sit out.
The biggest issue, he said, was feeling like an outsider.
“More than just being injured, being a starting athlete is less hard than not being able to see your friends, see your teammates, be around the group of guys,” Murtha said. “That was the hard part, not being able to sit there in meetings and not be able to go to the games and play with them. You kind of lose on that. You actually become pretty lonely. I took it all in stride.
“A lot of (the time) was spent just healing the foot. There’s not a lot you could do to begin with, just let it heal because it’s such a weight-bearing area of your body. I was in the training room a lot rehabbing. But you’re secluded from the guys, you’re not sitting in on meetings and you’re not on the practice field and in that game. It’s tough, especially when you’re at home watching them on TV knowing you could be a part of that. That’s the toughest part.”
Murtha said he made sure to catch every game, watching the Dolphins with family and friends.
All the while, he was pointing to the arrival of the 2012 season.
And now that it's getting closer and closer, Murtha is a happy man again.
“It’s huge,” he said. “Being out of football for an entire season is tough to come back from mentally, physically. To be able to just get out there, get your legs moving, run some plays, it’s everything I could ask for. It’s definitely a blessing.”