Two days after his consecutive starts streak came to an end at 87 due to a knee injury, Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Vernon Carey has been placed on season-ending injured reserve.
The 18th overall pick by the Dolphins out of the University of Miami in 2004, Carey has started 92 of the 106 games in which he has played, including all 12 to begin this season.
Carey, who has played both tackle spots and even guard in his career, had not missed a start since Week 6 of the 2005 season until failing to play in last Sunday's win over the New York Jets.
Second-year player Lydon Murtha, who started in Carey's place Sunday, will likely finish out the season as the Dolphins' starting right tackle.
For some perspective, in the last game that Carey did not start prior to this past week, Gus Frerotte and Wes Welker failed to help the Dolphins secure a victory over Brian Griese, Michael Pittman, and the rest of the 2005 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Carey has never been entirely consistent, failing to establish himself as an elite left tackle that you hope for when you take one in the first round. Nevertheless, he's been a more-than-serviceable starter as a solid left tackle and fantastic run-blocking right tackle in the previous few seasons.
Carey, who signed a $42 million contract in the 2009 offseason, ends this season having allowed four sacks in 12 games after allowing four in 16 starts the previous year. He's had some nagging injuries the past few years, but has a big contract and is far more reliable than either of the team's guards or center, so he's a lock to start again in 2011.
While I've had my gripes with Carey in the past, losing him for the last four games of the season is tough, and inserting Lydon Murtha as the starting right tackle is a huge downgrade.
Murtha has looked overmatched during his playing time this season and is nowhere near the run blocker Carey is, which is problematic considering how weak the Dolphins' are inside already.
Personally, I'd prefer to start a combination of John Jerry and Pat McQuistan at right guard and right tackle with Murtha on the bench, but the coaching staff apparently disagrees.
Losing Carey and starting Murtha won't kill the Dolphins' chances of winning games, especially their next two against Buffalo and Detroit. But it's certainly not going to make things any easier though, and it just means the pressure on Chad Henne will be even more frequent than it has been.
As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.
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