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NOTEBOOK: Clabo’s Resiliency Paying Dividends; Other Notes

Posted Dec 13, 2013

Veteran right tackle has stepped up his play after rough start.

Eight seasons into his NFL career, Miami Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo has proven he can handle all sorts of ups and downs. But the way he has handled his first season in Miami has left a lasting impression.

Clabo was brought in as a free agent back in May right after the 2013 NFL Draft to add a veteran presence to a young offensive line that was moving on from perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long. He was asked to anchor the right side and serve as sort of a mentor to fourth-year right guard John Jerry and second-year left tackle Jonathan Martin.

Things took an unexpected turn for Clabo after six games when the Dolphins traded for veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie and moved Martin over to the right for Miami’s first meeting at the New England Patriots. That put an end to his streak of 97 consecutive starts, but he was back in the lineup four days later against Cincinnati and hasn’t really missed a beat, coming up with his best performance of the season in last week’s 34-28 win at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It says a lot about him and his resiliency and his ability at this point in his career to be able to lose his job, get it back and then be able to play at a level of confidence and he’s done a nice job for us,” offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. “I was pretty excited to see how he played this week. He had a key matchup in the ball game and I thought he handled himself very well.”

The Dolphins have won four of their last six games to position themselves for a serious run at the playoffs and the offensive line has had a lot to do with the recent success. This was a unit that was at the center of an off-the-field story last month and at one point was down three starters with the loss of Martin, left guard Richie Incognito and center Mike Pouncey (who missed two games with an illness).

Clabo realized how important it was to keep the rest of the line focused and ready and how important it was to help rookie guard Sam Brenner and all-purpose lineman Nate Garner in their new roles during that stretch. He continues to talk more about the unit as a whole rather than about his contributions, but he is aware of where he had to come from.

“I’m just trying to help this team win any way that I can and the biggest way that I can do that is to block defensive ends,” said Clabo, who made the Pro Bowl in 2010 as a member of the Atlanta Falcons. “So I’m just trying to do that every week.”

This week he’ll have to do it against a hot New England team that at 10-3 is trying to clinch the AFC East and get the inside track on the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

POUNCEY RETURNS TO PRACTICE

Starting center Mike Pouncey was back on the practice field today after missing Wednesday’s practice for non-football injury reasons. The last time he missed practice was during a stretch when he missed two games with an illness.

WILSON AWARDED BLOCKED PUNT TO TIE RECORD

Safety Jimmy Wilson’s big play in the second quarter last week at Pittsburgh when he broke through the line on a punt has been changed from a deflection to a block by the league. That gives Wilson three blocked punts in his career and ties him with Tim Foley.

CARROLL’S HIGH SCHOOL PLAYS EX-DOLPHINS FOR TITLE

Cornerback Nolan Carroll had his allegiances tested today when his high school alma mater from Green Cove Springs, Clay High, squared off against American Heritage for the Class 5A state championship.

This was just the second time reaching the state finals in the school’s history going back to the 1970s, but unfortunately for Carroll his Blue Devils faced a juggernaut with two former Dolphins on the coaching staff – Patrick Surtain and Oronde Gadsden. Heritage rolled to a 40-0 halftime lead in dominant fashion, leaving Clay to reminisce about the year his team came within a game of reaching the finals in 2003.

“The whole community rallied around us and everybody believed in us,” Carroll said. “People were still talking about it before this season even started, talking about our old team and we thought we had the best team in Clay High School history. But these guys, they’ve done a good job, too, as far as exceeding expectations.”

THIS AND THAT

Pleasant temperatures greeted the team again today and drew the players outside of the practice bubble for a full session in preparation for Sunday’s pivotal contest. There was an audible and visual buzz on the field, as the players seemed a little more boisterous and amped up in anticipation of facing the Patriots. … Hall-of-Fame quarterback Dan Marino was at the facility doing interviews with Head Coach Joe Philbin, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, wide receiver Mike Wallace and defensive end Cameron Wake for Sunday’s pregame show on CBS, “The NFL Today.”

FRIDAY MUSICAL FOLLIES

Reggae was the vibe this morning during the warm-ups and stretching period, as the legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers kicked things off with, “Them Belly Full.” Shaggy closed things out with “Boombastic.”

THE LAST WORD

“We’ve got to go out in the second half and play great. We know they’re a great second half football team and they’ve proven that over and over all year long so no matter what we do in the first half we have to go out and play better in the second half.” – Pouncey on New England’s penchant for pulling out wins late in games

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