Monday, November 18, 2013

Dolphins thrilled with how Brenner handled debut


For a Miami Dolphins offensive line that had already given up a league-high 31 sacks coming into Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers, things seemed like they'd get worse before they got better after center Mike Pouncey was ruled out with an illness.

But a makeshift front-five that was comprised of midseason acquisitions, career backups and one practice squad call-up -- an undrafted rookie who learned only on Sunday morning that he'd be in the starting lineup -- held its own and helped the Dolphins earn a crucial 20-16 victory.

Despite his glaring lack of NFL experience, teammates had confidence that Sam Brenner, who'd been a member of the Dolphins practice squad since training camp, would be ready to step up when asked to step in at left guard.

"I had a lot of confidence in Sam coming in," Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said after the game, via the team's website. "I could see it in his face before the game. He was excited to have an opportunity."

Brenner did surrender a third quarter sack and Pro Football Focus charged him with one quarterback hurry, but his ability to come off the practice squad and be ready to contribute in a big game at a moment's notice left his veteran line-mates in admiration.

“It’s unbelievable what that guy did,” eighth-year tackle Tyson Clabo said. “It just speaks volumes about his work ethic because it’s almost cliché when you talk about guys who aren’t playing on the practice squad who try to prepare like they’re going to play.

"Coaches are always like, ‘You’re one play away from being on the roster. You’re one play away from moving up or you’re one play away from being in the game.’ And when you’re young you really don’t believe it, but Sam really prepares like that and it paid off for him.”

With Pouncey being day-to-day after getting hospitalized on Friday with kidney and gallbladder issues, it's uncertain when Brenner will get his number called next. But he'll be ready, and extra proud that his opportunity to help his team came against the franchise he grew up rooting for.

“It was pretty amazing and it was just a great experience to do it against my hometown team,” Brenner said. "To do it with the guys on this team was amazing. I love the guys on this team and it was just a great opportunity for me to come contribute and help get a ‘W.’"

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