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Starks The Iron Man Of Defensive Tackles; Other Notes

Posted Dec 24, 2013

Veteran lineman hasn’t missed a regular-season game in 107 weeks.



Playing in the trenches is physically demanding and can take a serious toll on the body, which is why what Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks has done is even more impressive.

Starks has played in 107 consecutive regular-season games going all the way back to October 7th, 2007 when he was with the Tennessee Titans. He was inactive against the Atlanta Falcons that day and has not missed a day of work since, giving him the longest streak among active defensive tackles and the second longest among active defensive linemen behind Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen at 109.

“I never thought about it but it feels good,” said Starks, who started every game of the season in 2009, 2010 and 2012. “At least you can say I’m reliable and I stay healthy. Being in the trenches and taking a lot of punishment it says a lot. It says that I’m durable and able to play through injuries because it’s not like I’m playing 100 percent every week, so just for me to be able to that says a lot.”

During his two Pro Bowl seasons in 2010 and 2012, Starks did not miss a start and has been an integral part of Miami’s front seven from the day he arrived as a free agent in March of 2008. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound Maryland native flourished in the 3-4 defensive alignment at the outset as a defensive end and has also been effective as a nose tackle when filling in for Paul Soliai.

Now Starks is proving dangerous both as a pass rusher and a run stopper and is one of the main reasons why New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan pointed to that front four as what concerns him the most heading into Sunday’s game at Sun Life Stadium. And that concern from Ryan should not surprise Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, especially when it comes to Starks.

“He’s the ultimate pro. He works his tail off,” Coyle said. “He’s a leader, quiet leader of our defense. I think all of the players respect him as we do as coaches.”

Starks’ conditioning and toughness will continue to be respected, along with his impressive streak. His fellow interior linemen, Jared Odrick and Paul Soliai, have the utmost respect lining up next to him and watching up close the type of punishment he takes on every down.

So when both players were made aware of the streak and the actual number they were taken aback. In fact, they were almost as surprised as Starks himself and that gave them an even stronger appreciation for the feat their teammate has accomplished.

“He’s one of my teammates and one of my good friends and that’s a big accomplishment,” said Soliai, who made the Pro Bowl in 2011. “That’s something I want to be able to do is to keep playing as long as I’m still healthy. We both take a lot of punishment and we have each other’s back so I’m excited for him.”

Odrick has a different perspective having missed all but one game of his rookie season with a leg injury suffered in the 2010 season opener at the Buffalo Bills. He is presently on a streak of 47 consecutive games played, or less than half of what Starks has done, and he echoed Soliai’s compliments of his teammate.

“It’s pretty impressive and it’s something to be commended,” Odrick said. “I’m thinking about it now because I never thought about it before and it’s very commendable when you see what type of league we play in and how physical it is and what type of wear and tear our bodies take. It goes underappreciated to be honest with you and undervalued. He deserves whatever accolades he can receive from this amazing feat because it is amazing when you’re able to play 107 games straight in the NFL on the interior line. There’s something to be said about that.”

The only game Starks has missed during that stretch is Miami’s last playoff game on January 4th, 2008 against the Baltimore Ravens at Sun Life Stadium. He’d like nothing better than to get back into the playoffs with a win on Sunday and some help in order to have a chance to play in another playoff game.

THIS AND THAT

Without looking at the calendar, it would have been difficult to tell that this is Christmas Eve based on watching the Dolphins practice outdoors in balmy temperatures again. The team worked out under blue skies with a slight but comfortable breeze, something those in the Northeast and Midwest would trade for in a New York minute. … Running back Daniel Thomas was the only player without a helmet during the portion of practice open to the media, as he continues to recover from a sore ankle. … Quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn’t show any ill effects from the knee injury he suffered late at the Buffalo Bills.

HOLIDAY MUSIC TIME

After an unconventional opening to the warm-up music with “Candy,” by Ballin Entertainment, it was time for some Christmas music. “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” by The Jackson 5 closed out the session for the day.

THE LAST WORD

“Well, at least we know that it’s definitely not our last game. We have a chance and that’s really what we’re trying to focus on. You don’t want it to be your last game, so we’ve got something to play for and I’m happy about that and thankful for that.” – right tackle Tyson Clabo on this last regular-season game still having playoff ramifications