Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Steinbach's retirement opens door for faltering Jerry


As if the preseason hasn't been rough enough for the Miami Dolphins' offensive line, they lost a player who they hoped would provide much-needed depth at guard.

Eric Steinbach, the veteran lineman the Dolphins signed to a one-year deal in July, decided to call it a career, the team announced Wednesday via Twitter. The 32-year-old former Cleveland Brown and Cincinnati Bengal attempted to make a comeback in Miami after sitting out the 2011 season due to a back injury, but decided to retire due to his cumulative health issues.

The Dolphins were already dangerously thin at the guard position, and Steinbach's departure further complicates a muddled situation.

John Jerry, a once near-certainty to not make the final roster, may now have the open door that he needed to make the team. His struggles with consistency and his weight have been well-chronicled in both the media and on HBO's Hard Knocks, where his positional coach Jim Turner repeatedly and publicly reprimanded him for his waistline.

The third-year guard has been trying to take the criticism in stride.

“They expect more out of me,” Jerry said, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “That pretty much says it all. When the coaches tell you they expect more out of you, you pretty much get it from there.”

Jerry's weight is down to the mid-340s, well below the scale-tipping 360 pounds he reported to camp as. Still, more will need to be done for him to successfully transition to Miami's new zone-blocking scheme, which requires athletic linemen.

Jerry's recent progress has also put him in line to start at right guard in Friday's preseason game against the Falcons, as Artis Hicks is dealing with some veteran wear and tear himself and will likely sit out. Hicks has started both of Miami's preseason games so far.

It will be a difficult, and important, test for the young lineman. Jerry will be facing a formidable Atlanta front-four, featuring John Abraham, Ray Edwards and Jerry's older brother, Peria.

Drafting the gameplan against the Dolphins is Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who spent the previous two seasons at the same position in Miami and is familiar with most of the Dolphins' linemen. He will know Jerry is being tested and will likely throw his best at him.

If Jerry holds his own on Friday, he may complete an unlikely comeback to make the final 53-man roster.

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