NFL Nation: Tyson Clabo

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DAVIE, Fla. -- It was one of the worst-kept secrets in the NFL draft that the Miami Dolphins desperately needed to fix their offensive line this week. Miami’s weakest unit allowed a franchise-record 58 quarterback sacks and could have as many as four new starters next season. Major changes were needed.

But the first pick of the Dennis Hickey era felt like a reach Thursday night when the Dolphins selected right tackle Ja'Wuan James at No. 19 overall. Most draft experts did not rate James as the 19th-best player in this draft. James said himself that some people told him he was projected to go in the second round. There was a solid chance the Dolphins could've landed James later in the first round by trading down to acquire more picks, which seemed like the best scenario.

However, Hickey said James was the best available player on the Dolphins' draft board. (I have yet to see a general manager willing to admit the opposite.) James was a player Miami did extensive homework on and fits many of the characteristics the team is looking for.

But the big question remains: Did Miami get the right value for this pick?

“We had a couple calls [for trades], but we were just excited about picking Ja'Wuan James and adding him to our roster,” Hickey said. “He’s a guy that definitely fits in from a talent aspect as well as a person, and brings what the Dolphins were all about.”

The draft board did not fall in Miami's favor. The Dolphins were put at a disadvantage when top-tier offensive tackles Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin were all taken off the board in the first 16 picks. That left the Dolphins with the option of picking the fifth-rated offensive tackle, which is their biggest need, or another position. Miami passed on higher-rated players by the general consensus such as safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

On the positive, James could be a Day 1 starter for Miami. The Dolphins' offensive line was ravaged this offseason due to the loss of offensive tackles Bryant McKinnie and Tyson Clabo in free agency and guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry with last year’s bullying scandal. James started 49 career games at Tennessee in the competitive Southeastern Conference and comes to Miami with plenty of college experience.

“I’m a tough, smart offensive lineman,” James said on a conference call with the Miami media. “I pride myself on being smart and not making many mistakes. I bring athleticism to the table, strength and a lot of experience.”

The Dolphins held the No. 19 pick only twice before in their team history. Miami selected two solid players: offensive lineman Vernon Carey (2004) and defensive end Kim Bokamper (1976) with those picks. Perhaps James can join the aforementioned pair as a quality contributor for the franchise. If that's the case, no one will care several years from now where James was taken. But Hickey's first draft pick in Miami lacks sizzle.
One of the worst-kept secrets in this year’s NFL draft is the Miami Dolphins will draft offensive linemen. There is a strong chance Miami will dedicate at least two of its six draft picks this year on fixing the position.

The Dolphins are in the process of completely making over the offensive line. Miami could have four new starters next season after the departures of tackles Bryant McKinnie and Tyson Clabo in free agency and guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry due to last year’s bullying scandal. Jonathan Martin, who began the 2013 season at left tackle, was traded after leaving the team in late October due to the harassment.

Miami could only do so much in free agency. The Dolphins signed starting left tackle Branden Albert and guard Shelley Smith. But another guard position and right tackle remain wide open entering next week’s draft.

Top prospects such as Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan are expected to be off the board when the Dolphins select at No. 19. Therefore, former NFL head coach and ESPN football analyst Jon Gruden shared his thoughts on this year’s second tier of offensive tackles in a recent conference call:
“Morgan Moses at Virginia is a very interesting guy to me. They've had a history of left tackles come out of Virginia. Moses is a kid that played one year at left tackle. He was a right tackle for a couple years. Joel Bitonio at Nevada is an interesting player. A fifth-year senior, been around, worked hard. I think he has some position flexibility, can play right, left or go inside. I like Zack Martin at Notre Dame. He might be my favorite linemen in this draft – 52-time starter, captain, really excelled at the Senior Bowl, drill work. Cyrus Kouandjio at Alabama, interesting player. Had some knee issues. I believe he's rounding into health. Massive person with experience on the left side. There's a number of interesting big people in this draft. I think last year we had three tackles go in the top five. So we got a lot of good quality offensive linemen coming into pro football here.”

The Dolphins are expected to have interest in all of these prospects. Martin is the top target at No. 19 of this group. But Moses and Bitonio also are possibilities in the second round.

Look for Miami to not only look for offensive linemen in the early rounds, but also in the middle and late rounds, as well.
Branden AlbertPeter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesThe Dolphins bolstered their O-line by agreeing to a five-year, $46 million deal with Brandon Albert.
NFL free agency kicked off with a bang Tuesday, and Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert was one of the biggest names to switch teams. Albert signed a five-year, $46 million contract with Miami Dolphins. He spent the previous five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

One team’s loss is another team’s gain in free agency. ESPN.com’s Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Dolphins reporter James Walker weigh in on both sides of the Albert signing.

James Walker: Adam, the Dolphins are ecstatic to land a player of Albert’s caliber. Pro Bowl left tackles do not grow on trees, and Albert was the highest-rated player at that position on the market. Albert also filled Miami’s biggest need on the offensive line, which was torn apart last season with the bullying controversy. The price tag wasn’t cheap. But the Dolphins feel it was worth the investment, especially after watching their quarterback get sacked a team-record 58 times last season. Albert will protect Ryan Tannehill’s blindside. Adam, how are the Chiefs dealing with the loss of Albert?

Adam Teicher: It’s a loss for the Chiefs for the short term without a doubt. Eventually, the Chiefs should be able to handle his departure. The Chiefs and Albert were so far apart on a long-term contract last year that they knew it was never going to happen. So they began preparing for this day last year by selecting a tackle, Eric Fisher, with the first pick in the draft. Fisher started as a rookie at right tackle but didn’t play well. He was a huge disappointment, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t eventually become the player the Chiefs envision. He needs a year in Kansas City’s weight program. That alone should make him better.

The Chiefs and Dolphins talked about a trade involving Albert last year. How disappointed was Miami they couldn’t acquire Albert then?

Walker: The Dolphins liked Albert last year, but the person calling the shots this year is different. Miami fired former general manager Jeff Ireland and hired new GM Dennis Hickey in January. Ireland liked to acquire picks as opposed to trading them away. So it wasn’t a shock when talks with Kansas City failed. It turned out to be a mistake as Miami’s offensive line was atrocious, which played a factor in Ireland losing his job. Hickey doesn’t want to make the same mistake. It appears he values the perks of a good offensive line and is making it a priority by putting money into Albert.

Adam, the Chiefs’ offensive line appears to be in transition with losses of Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz. How will they recover?

Teicher: They’ve tried to prepare for this. Over the last four drafts, the Chiefs have used five picks in the first three rounds on offensive linemen. Four of them will start next season. They have three developmental linemen and the Chiefs could slide one of them into a starting spot in the middle of the line. Their depth will definitely take a hit, particularly at tackle. They’ll have to find some backups and perhaps even a starter through free agency or the draft.

With regard to the offensive line, is anything left for the Dolphins to do or are they set?

Walker: The Dolphins are far from set, Adam. Unlike Kansas City, Miami has not invested much in the offensive line in the past year. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is the only starting offensive lineman expected to return. Last year’s starting guards -- Richie Incognito and John Jerry -- will not return due to their involvement in Miami’s high-profile bullying scandal. Offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are both unrestricted free agents who are long in the tooth. Pouncey and Albert are a solid foundation. But the Dolphins still need two starting guards and a right tackle to play alongside their two Pro Bowlers.

Free-agency primer: Dolphins

March, 7, 2014
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Key free agents: DT Randy Starks, DT Paul Soliai, S Chris Clemons, G Richie Incognito, G John Jerry, OT Bryant McKinnie, OT Tyson Clabo

Where they stand: The Dolphins are expecting major turnover on their offensive line this offseason. Four starters -- Incognito, Jerry, McKinnie and Clabo -- are unrestricted free agents; most are not expected to return after Miami set a franchise record with 58 quarterback sacks allowed and were 26th in rushing. Incognito and Jerry were both involved in Miami’s high-profile bullying scandal. McKinnie and Clabo are older veterans at the end of their careers. So the Dolphins will look to get younger at offensive tackle. Starks and Soliai are solid defensive tackles who could get interest on the open market. Clemons is an average safety who has starting experience.

What to expect: Incognito and Jerry are as good as gone. Both were cited in the 144-page Ted Wells report. The Dolphins will let them go elsewhere in order to distance the franchise from that ugly scandal. Miami has plenty of cap room and will look to spend it at offensive tackle. Free-agent tackles like Eugene Monroe and Branden Albert could be high priorities. If the Dolphins can land one of them, that rules out a return for McKinnie. The defensive tackle position is interesting. Miami may aim to bring back Starks or Soliai, but nothing is guaranteed if neither player is signed before March 11. There is a chance the Dolphins could lose both players and need a contingency plan.

Miami Dolphins combine preview

February, 18, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins have been "team turmoil" as of late. They have been dealing with the aftermath of the Ted Wells report, but there are some other things on the way in terms of free agency and the NFL draft.

With that in mind, the NFL combine kicks off later this week. The Dolphins hold the No. 19 overall pick.

Here are some key questions and answers:

1. How will the new GM handle the combine?

This is the first NFL combine as the top guy for Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey. He worked in both college and pro scouting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 18 years before getting the GM job in Miami in January.

Hickey was not Miami’s first choice, but he has an opportunity to begin proving his worth at the combine. Scouting is his specialty and one of the primary reasons he got the job. The Dolphins have some holes to fill.

Hickey will address the media on Thursday in Indianapolis. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Hickey most likely will have to spend a good amount of time addressing the fallout from the Ted Wells report, which was released last week and detailed Miami’s bullying scandal involving Dolphins offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.

2. Who are some players to watch for Miami?

The Dolphins were 8-8 in 2013. So they are not a rebuilding team with a bare cupboard. However, Miami does have some well-defined needs that must be addressed if the Dolphins want to get to the next level.

For starters, Miami must rebuild nearly its entire offensive line. It was the weakest part of the team last year, allowing a franchise-record 58 sacks to go with an inconsistent running game. The Dolphins have four starters about to become unrestricted free agents: offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie, as well as guards Incognito and John Jerry. Incognito and Jerry were two parties involved in the Ted Wells investigation for Miami’s bullying scandal and won’t return. Clabo and McKinnie are older players and the Dolphins will look to get younger at the position.

That means Miami will have a long look at guards and tackles in the draft. The Dolphins are fortunate that this is an area of great depth this year. Some offensive tackles to keep an eye on are Notre Dame’s Zack Martin, Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio and Virginia's Morgan Moses. All three should be in range for Miami at No. 19. Potential second-round selections could come at running back, where players like Carlos Hyde from Ohio State or Wisconsin’s James White could be available.

3. What is Jonathan Martin’s future?

Scouting rookies isn’t the only business that happens at the combine. Team executives also meet with agents in Indianapolis to discuss current NFL players, potential trades and contracts. One major issue for Miami is what to do with Martin.

The 2012 second-round pick has two years left on his rookie contract. But it’s clear after the Wells report that a mutual parting of ways is best for both parties. Both sides are expected to meet in Indianapolis to figure out where to go from here.
With the 2013 season officially in the books, it’s time to shift our focus to 2014. ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both produced their post-Super Bowl mock drafts on Thursday.

Here is how they view the Miami Dolphins with the No. 19 overall pick:
Interestingly, both Kiper and McShay projected the same position and player for Miami in May’s draft. It’s no secret that offensive line is a huge need for the Dolphins after allowing a franchise-record 58 sacks last season. Miami's running game also was rated 26th in the league. Starting offensive linemen Bryant McKinnie, Tyson Clabo, John Jerry and Richie Incognito will all become free agents in March and most -- if not all -- are expected to leave.

Martin would be a solid addition with the 19th pick. He was a very productive player at Notre Dame and is coming off a productive Senior Bowl. He is a three-year starter and team captain, which shows leadership.

The only question I have about Martin is his physical tools. He's not as naturally gifted as other left tackle prospects in the draft. But Martin is a high-motor player who gets the most out of what he has.

Martin would be a safe pick for the Dolphins, albeit not a spectacular one.

Walker's Dolphins Draft Watch: 1.0

January, 23, 2014
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The NFL draft is months away. But it's never too early to discuss how the Miami Dolphins must improve their roster.

There will be months of evaluations, workouts and stocks going up and down among college players. But here are ESPN.com's Dolphins page's early top five matches for Miami with the No. 19 overall pick.

1. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Analysis: Miami starting offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are both free agents. Jonathan Martin, a 2012 second-round pick, also is not expected back following Miami's recent bullying scandal. That makes a first-round tackle like Kouandjio a target for Miami. It's hard to go wrong with an Alabama offensive lineman. Alabama's run blocking and pass protection has been arguably the nation's best for the past three years, and Kouandjio was part of that.

2. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

Analysis: Miami's running game was 26th in the NFL last year. Hyde is the top running back prospect in the draft. It's a natural link. Hyde was productive for Ohio State last season with 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is a big, physical runner, which Miami lacked last year. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were not the answer for the Dolphins last year.

3. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Analysis: Martin doesn't have the physical gifts of Kouandjio. But Martin gets the most of his ability and fits the mold of a "Joe Philbin guy." He's a hard worker and former team captain at Notre Dame. Martin may have position versatility to play guard at the NFL level, as well. The Dolphins' coaching staff values players who are good at multiple positions.

4. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Analysis: Miami starting safety Chris Clemons is an unrestricted free agent and replaceable. The Dolphins need a playmaker on the back end to pair with Reshad Jones, and Clinton-Dix has that potential. Clinton-Dix has good instincts, awareness and also can cover well, which the Dolphins lacked at safety last season. Re-signing corner Brent Grimes and drafting Clinton-Dix would make for a stronger secondary for Miami in 2014.

5. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia

Analysis: If you can't tell by now, the Dolphins need offensive tackles. Moses is another prospect with potential, but he's more of an unfinished product than Kouandjio and Martin. Moses may be better suited at right tackle than left tackle. But it doesn't hurt that Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was part of the coaching staff that recruited Moses to the University of Virginia.

Periodically, we will update this with our 2.0 list as we continue to get closer to the NFL draft.

Kiper mock 1.0 reaction: Dolphins

January, 15, 2014
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It's never too early to talk NFL draft, and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. is ahead of the curve with his first mock draft Insider of the offseason.

Kiper predicts the Miami Dolphins will select Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio with the No. 19 overall pick in May. This is a huge position of need for Miami, which allowed a franchise-record 58 quarterbacks sacks last season. Miami's running game also stalled and was ranked 26th in the NFL.

The pick makes sense for the Dolphins. They have a pair of free-agent starters in offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie. There is a good chance one or both will not return. Second-year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin also was in the middle of a bullying scandal last season and is expected to be traded or released.

The Dolphins need a major makeover on the offensive line, and drafting Kouandjio in the first round could be a solid start in the right direction.

Thoughts on mock-draft pick for Dolphins

December, 19, 2013
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The Miami Dolphins are in the middle of a playoff push. However, it’s never too early to talk about the NFL draft.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay presented his first 2014 mock draft Insider this week with some interesting selections. Let’s take a look at what McShay has in store for Miami.

McShay’s pick: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Analysis: McShay has Miami picking at No. 22, which should make some Dolphins fans happy. That means Miami made its first postseason since 2008. However, I disagree with this early projection. The Dolphins need big men, but on the other side of the football. I would much rather see the Dolphins search for a top offensive lineman in the first round to better protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins are due for a major makeover on the offensive line. Starters John Jerry and Tyson Clabo are both free agents, and former starters Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin are not expected to return following this year’s bullying scandal. That’s four of Miami’s five Week 1 starters out. The Dolphins will need to replace those losses, and the draft is a good place to do it.
DAVIE, Fla. – Tyson Clabo was downtrodden after the Miami Dolphins’ Week 7 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Miami’s starting right tackle allowed two sacks to Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams in the fourth quarter that led to the Dolphins’ 23-21 upset loss.

Clabo
The loss wasn’t completely on Clabo, but his postgame demeanor said as much. Clabo took on the responsibility and admitted he was pushed around by Williams down the stretch.

Clabo struggled mightily in the first half of the season. He allowed the most sacks on the team through the first six games, which was capped by Clabo’s two sacks allowed against the Bills. Clabo was later benched for a week before returning to the starting lineup.

Now, Clabo is playing some of his best football of the year two months later. He’s motivated to have a better performance against Buffalo in a big game.

“I’m doing the same things I was doing, I’m just doing it better,” Clabo said in the locker room Wednesday. “I’m going to continue to try to do that. These guys are good, so there’s definitely a challenge. I’m going to show up.”

The Dolphins (8-6) will be favored to beat the Bills (5-9). Miami is the hotter and more talented team. But one way the Bills can pull the upset is by getting to the quarterback.

Miami’s pass protection has been inconsistent all season. The Dolphins allowed four sacks last week on quarterback Ryan Tannehill in a 24-20 win over the New England Patriots.

Clabo admitted after the Buffalo loss that Williams is one of the toughest matchups in the NFL and is difficult to block one-on-one. Clabo gets a return date against Williams on Sunday.

“I’m not going to hide or dance around the fact that guy is really good,” said Clabo, who stood by his prior comments of Williams. “So obviously it’s going to be a challenge for anybody he lines up against. He’s good. I have no regrets. I’m just being honest.”

Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes (groin) and backup running back Daniel Thomas (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. In other Dolphins notes, Miami claimed corner back Chris Owens off waivers from the Cleveland Browns and cut cornerback Justin Rogers.

The Dolphins survive and advance

December, 1, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The playoffs are now for the Miami Dolphins. There are no excuses and there's no margin for error.

Fortunately for the Dolphins, they put together their most complete game of the season in a 23-3 victory over the AFC East rival New York Jets.

[+] EnlargeJoe Philbin
Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports"It's Dec. 1 and you have to play your best football here in December," coach Joe Philbin said.
Miami (6-6) got back to .500 and advanced in its pseudo first-round matchup with a crucial road win at MetLife Stadium. This kind of performance came at the right time for Miami, which remains in the thick of the wild-card hunt in the AFC with four games remaining.

"We told the guys [Saturday] in the meeting that it's Dec. 1 and you have to play your best football here in December," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. "We talked earlier in the week about making this a one-game season, focusing on the game at hand, and all the other stuff will take care of itself."

Miami certainly took care of business -- at least for one week. But the inconsistent Dolphins had the look Sunday of a team capable of stringing together some wins down the stretch.

Miami didn't allow a touchdown on defense for the first time this season and played aggressively on offense. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw for a season-high 331 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He had a 94.2 passer rating and got help from the defense, which forced the Jets to bench struggling starting quarterback Geno Smith at halftime.

The Dolphins clearly played this game with a sense of urgency, while the Jets (5-7) have their slim playoff hopes on life support. It was a win-win for the Dolphins. The teams will meet again in the regular-season finale in Miami.

"Everybody felt like their backs were against the wall," Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon said. "We know what type of team we are. We just have to keep fighting."

The pressure remains on the Dolphins to keep winning. They do not hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Baltimore Ravens (6-6), who are ahead of Miami for the sixth seed. There are several other teams in the AFC mix, as well.

Next week is another must-win game, against the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7). The Dolphins cannot afford to lose another head-to-head tiebreaker against a playoff hopeful if they want to stay alive in the wild-card chase.

"We have to win if we want to be relevant as a team," offensive tackle Tyson Clabo said. "We will continue to work. But when we have balance, we're pretty good."
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins are in the middle of an important investigation by the NFL. At the center of it is the offensive line, the unit that worked closely with suspended guard Richie Incognito and embattled right tackle Jonathan Martin.

Several Dolphins offensive linemen confirmed Wednesday that they had interviews with the NFL. These are the players who best know Incognito, Martin and the relationship between them that eventually led to bullying and harassment allegations by Martin.

“Everything went very well. So we will see how it goes,” Dolphins center Mike Pouncey said of the investigation. "We were in there for a while. They asked a bunch of questions. … It seemed like a long time but it probably wasn't. They got all the questions they wanted to get out of us and we gave them all the trustful answers."

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie joined the team in October from Baltimore. He didn’t know either party well, but said he hasn’t been afraid to voice his opinion on the situation.

According to McKinnie, investigators wanted to pick his brain as a veteran who has played on three different teams and been in various locker rooms. McKinnie estimated his interview lasted about 30 minutes.

"There was four people in there and two people asking questions," McKinnie said. "They’re just trying to gather knowledge from everybody on what really happened and go from there."

Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo also has been vocal and supportive of Incognito. However, Clabo was more tight-lipped about what went on behind closed doors when he met with the NFL.

"Yeah, I did that. They asked us to respect the process of the investigation and to not really go into the details about it," Clabo said. "So I did my time up there and that’s really all I’m going to say about it."

Pouncey, who has spent time with Incognito since the suspension, said he believes the full truth will come out at the conclusion of this investigation.

The Dolphins (5-5) are still in the playoff hunt and have tried to stay focused with a big game upcoming at home against the Carolina Panthers (7-3).

"I feel like we’re all at ease now," Pouncey said. "Now we can just focus straight on football. That’s the most important thing, that we can focus on football so we can win games."
Mike Glennon and Ryan TannehillGetty ImagesMike Glennon, left, and Ryan Tannehill have a lot to prove in the season's second half.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Although their records are uninspiring, the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been all over the news this season -- for all the wrong reasons.

The recent incident involving Miami offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito has dominated the headlines. Earlier in the season, the Bucs were in the news as the rift between coach Greg Schiano and quarterback Josh Freeman erupted, and Tampa Bay continues to draw attention after three players were diagnosed with MRSA infections.

But, on Monday night, the Dolphins and Bucs finally will be in the football spotlight as they play in a nationally televised game. ESPN.com Dolphins reporter James Walker and Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas discuss the matchup.

Pat Yasinskas: James, the Martin-Incognito situation has been one of the biggest stories of the season. How much of a distraction has it been for the other Miami players?

James Walker: The Dolphins are trying to put a decent spin on things this week. However, you can tell it’s weighing on them. Players are genuinely upset that it came down to this. They felt Martin could have handled this differently, and in a way that was better for the team, himself and Incognito. I would think most people outside of Miami’s locker room would find issues with that line of thinking. But it’s really within the NFL culture to think week-to-week and how to win games immediately. This has been an interesting case study on NFL locker rooms and how it relates real societal issues.

Pat, the Buccaneers have had their own share of drama this season. How is Tampa Bay handling its various issues at 0-8?

Yasinskas: James, things finally seem to have settled down a little bit the past week or two. But, for the longest time, it seemed as if the Bucs had a fresh controversy every day. The Freeman saga was nothing short of a soap opera, and the MRSA is a very serious issue. Cornerback Darrelle Revis has admitted the Bucs have been affected by the distractions. Throw in the fact that the Bucs are 0-8 and have lost several games they should have won, and it appears as if there’s a situation that could blow up at any time. But the one thing the Bucs have going for them is that they still are playing hard.

All right, let’s move to some on-the-field stuff. How are the Dolphins going to adjust their offensive line?

Walker: Here is the interesting thing about Miami's offensive line: It wasn't good with Martin and Incognito. Ryan Tannehill is the most-sacked quarterback in the NFL at the midpoint of the season, and, until two weeks ago, the running game was hit-or-miss. So, yes, on the surface, the Dolphins lost two starters on the offensive line. However, the bar set by the old group wasn't very high. Tyson Clabo will start for Martin at right tackle and Nate Garner at left guard. They're capable of holding up the same standard, but it remains to be seen whether they can do better.

Speaking of better, how much has the quarterback play improved with Mike Glennon? Can he become the long-term solution?

Yasinskas: Glennon has shown gradual improvement in each game. He’s been poised and has shown more mobility than most people thought he had. He has gone three straight games without an interception, which is a major accomplishment for a guy who has only five career starts. Schiano is very high on Glennon, and that admiration goes back to when Schiano tried (unsuccessfully) to recruit the quarterback to Rutgers. If Schiano sticks around, I think he views Glennon as his long-term answer at quarterback. But, with the way the Bucs are losing games, there is no guarantee Schiano will be back next season. A new coach might not be as high on Glennon as Schiano.

Speaking of long-term answers, has Tannehill shown enough to convince the Dolphins he can develop into a top-line starter?

Walker: I like what Tannehill brings to the table. However, this season has been challenging to evaluate because of all the troubles on the offensive line. Tannehill has a few holes in his game, such as poor pocket presence, suspect ball security and an average deep ball. Maybe some of those can be corrected with experience. This is a big eight-game stretch for Tannehill and his long-term future in Miami. That important period starts Monday night.

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Richie Incognito is now suspended. But the Miami Dolphins have one more day to decide on the immediate future of right tackle Jonathan Martin.

Miami’s starter is currently on the Non-football Illness list. The Dolphins have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to determine whether to take Martin off the list to return or keep him out the rest of the year.

Martin left the Dolphins last Monday following a lunchroom prank gone awry. Multiple reports from ESPN and other media outlets have indicated Martin has been a subject of persistent harassment from teammates. Martin’s representatives called the Dolphins on Sunday to outline those concerns, and the team suspended Incognito the same day.

Can the situation be resolved by Tuesday afternoon? If not, that means Martin most likely will not return to the team and be taken off the list. It's possible that Martin played his last game for the Dolphins this year. Tyson Clabo could fill in at right tackle in the final eight games.

Bringing Martin back into Miami’s locker room too soon could be toxic for both Martin and a Dolphins (4-4) team still fighting for a wild-card spot in the AFC. There are too many unresolved issues on both sides, and this situation appears to be just scratching the surface over the next few days and weeks.

Jonathan Martin should take his time

November, 1, 2013
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Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin should take all the time he needs before returning to the Miami Dolphins. If he needs another week, another month or the rest of the season, the Dolphins should not push this issue.

Multiple sources told ESPN.com this week that teammates were ribbing Martin in the lunch room Monday, which caused Martin to become irate and leave the team. He hasn't returned since. Fox Sports also reported Thursday night that this wasn't the first time Dolphins teammates had picked on Martin.

Martin walked out before a huge game -- Miami's crucial 22-20 overtime victory against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night -- and is reportedly seeking counseling for emotional issues. Speaking after the game, several teammates left the door open for Martin to return.

"I want him to come back to work," offensive tackle Tyson Clabo said. "He's a talented, young football player. I can't say what he's feeling. But I know if and when he wants to come back, I will be there to shake his hand."

Clabo played his best game of the season Thursday in place of Martin. Maybe he can hold the position down for the next few weeks, if needed.

Martin, 24, needs time and space to clear his head. A player must be fully invested, especially when you play a taxing sport like professional football. Martin should be on his own clock and not anyone else's.

This entire episode should be an important lesson to the Dolphins' locker room. The time for ribbing and joking is over. This isn't high school. The Dolphins' primary focus should be on winning and trying to make something of their season.

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