The medial collateral ligament sprain Jake Long suffered in his right knee will likely sidelined the Dolphins' Pro Bowl tackle for a couple days, if not weeks.
During that time Dolphins executives and coaches will be scrambling for solutions to fix a unit that was already depleted by injury, and lacked depth.
Long's usual backup, Lydon Murtha, has been sidelined for the past two weeks because of a lingering foot injury. A similar foot injury forced him to miss all of the 2011 season.
Murtha continues to sit out practice with the hopes that his foot, which isn't in a walking boot, will heal. But the uncertainly of his recovery has the team scrambling for quality backups.
Jonathan Martin, the former Stanford left tackle the Dolphins drafted in the second-round and intends to make the team's starting right tackle, filled in for Long immediate following Monday's injury.
Considering Long and Murtha aren't expected to play against Dallas on Wednesday it is possible Martin, who has allowed three sacks during the exhibition season, could be forced to start at left tackle in the final preseason game.
Artis Hicks, who is projected as the team's starting right guard, slid one spot over to man the right tackle spot while John Jerry played right guard. Hicks, who is battling a neck injury, missed last week's exhibition loss to the Falcons.
The Dolphins realize the line shuffles are only temporary fixes to the roster's thinnest unit.
Before Long's injury coach Joe Philbin had already expressed concerns about the unit's depth, admitting he wasn't comfortable with the caliber of the team's backups.
While Jerry, who showed up to training camp at 360 pounds, has played well in games against Carolina and Atlanta, Philbin admitted the coaching staff doesn't know if they can rely on the former third-round pick.
Nate Garner, who has played every position on the offensive line in his four seasons with the Dolphins, Will Yeatman, a converted tight end, Will Barker, a player the Dolphins poached off Tampa Bay's practice squad last year, and Andrew McDonald, an undrafted rookie the Dolphins signed following a tryout, are presently Miami's best options at tackle.
Considering there isn't a clear cut answer on how long it will take Long to recover from his sprain it is possible that Miami could be forced to claim a few offensive tackles and guards off the waiver wire. The alternative is to keep a few players who normally wouldn't make it to the team's 53-man roster.
The Dolphins usually keep eight to nine offensive linemen on the 53-man roster, and one or two on the practice squad. Heading into Wednesday's game the five starters are safe, and so is rookie Josh Samuda, the backup center who has been one of camp's more pleasant surprises. But behind those six the status of everyone else is uncertain.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun