The Miami Dolphins were already having offensive line issues this month, but the problems got worse when Will Yeatman tore his ACL during Wednesday's practice.
A league source confirmed the injury to Yeatman, a three-year veteran who served as the team's primary backup at offensive tackle the past two games.
Yeatman's status with the team had been elevated because of the bullying scandal that led to Jonathan Martin's absence from the Dolphins, which is entering its third week, and Richie Incognito's indefinite suspension, which is entering its second week.
The Dolphins, which have allowed 37 sacks in nine games and are coming off a franchise-low two rushing yards performance in Monday night's 22-19 loss to Tampa Bay, presently have eight available and healthy offensive linemen on the team's 53-man roster.
And one of eight - starting right tackle Tyson Clabo - is nursing a knee injury of his own.
Yeatman, a former lacrosse standout who began his NFL career as a tight end, had been sporadically used in the Dolphins' unbalanced line - entering the game as a sixth offensive lineman - the past two games.
Yeatman, who will become a restricted free agent in 2014, will likely undergo reconstructive surgery in the coming days. He will be placed on injured reserve at some point this week. That move would open up a roster spot for another offensive lineman.
It is possible the Dolphins will promote offensive tackle Jason Weaver, a rookie from Southern Mississippi, up from the practice squad to take Yeatman's place. Despite being on the practice squad Weaver has traveled with the team on road games. The Dolphins might also opt to claim an offensive lineman off another team's practice squad. Last week, the Dolphins claimed David Arkin off the Cowboys practice squad to replace Incognito.
Yeatman's injury likely means Dallas Thomas, the team's 2013 third-round pick, will have an opportunity to make a gameday roster for the first time this season.
Thomas, a former Tennessee standout who works at both tackle and guard, has not played in an NFL game this season. He's one of the many rookies in the 2013 draft class whose NFL careers have gotten off to a slow start.
Nate Garner, who works as the team's starting left guard, is the primary backup at tackle. So, if something happened to Clabo or Bryant McKinnie in a game he could move to his natural position, and Danny Watkins or Thomas could fill in as the left guard. John Jerry, the Dolphins starting right guard, also has experience playing offensive tackle.
While the Dolphins haven't played Martin on its reserve list, which is a move that would create a roster spot, the changes of him returning to the team this season are slim. Incognito, who was suspended for creating a hostile working environment for Martin, can only remain suspended for three more games according to NFL rules. After serving a four game suspension the league could intervene, adding additional games.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun