- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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DAVIE, Fla. -- It’s been a wild, roller-coaster week for Miami Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo. He was recently benched after allowing eight sacks in his first six games. But things could be looking up again for the embattled veteran.
Clabo could return to the starting lineup Thursday when the Dolphins (3-4) host the Cincinnati Bengals (6-2). Starting right tackle and 2012 second-round pick Jonathan Martin missed his second straight practice Tuesday with an illness.
Players who can’t practice typically do not play under Miami second-year coach Joe Philbin. The Dolphins have just one light walkthrough remaining on Wednesday.
Clabo said he’s ready to play Thursday if Martin can’t go.
“You have to focus on your role; roles change constantly in this league,” Clabo said. “Last week my role was to be ready in case anything happened. This week, my role might be a little different. That’s just life in the NFL week to week.”
Clabo struggled with pass protection in two losses to the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills, which forced the Dolphins to trade for starting offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie. Clabo, a nine-year veteran, has been a starter for the previous eight seasons with Miami and the Atlanta Falcons. But last Sunday was the first time in a long time Clabo was healthy and watched from the sideline due to poor performance.
There was no bickering from Clabo, who received praise for the way he's handled the situation.
"He's a true professional," Philbin said. "He comes in to work every single day wanting to get better and wanting to improve."
The Dolphins may need an improved Clabo on Thursday. Cincinnati has a talented defensive line, and Miami has allowed 32 sacks this season.
However, Clabo said he is prepared for a shot at redemption if Martin cannot get healthy.
“I understand that there are probably four right tackles in the NFL that can block [Ravens defensive end] Elvis Dumervil and [Bills defensive end] Mario Williams consistently one-on-one,” Clabo said. “At this point in my career, it doesn’t appear that I’m one of them. But I still have confidence in my ability to start at right tackle in this league.”
2hField Yates and Rich Cimini