Liam Eichenberg

Dolphins C Connor Williams Out For Season

The Dolphins continue to absorb blows along their offensive line. They will lose a second starter to a significant malady. Connor Williams is set to miss the rest of the season due to a torn ACL, Mike McDaniel said Tuesday.

Williams will join left guard Isaiah Wynn as Miami blockers set to rehab long-term injuries. It is not known if Wynn is done for the season, but early indications have signaled that is the case. Williams, who is in a contract year, left Monday night’s game early.

This is a brutal setback for Williams, who was playing out a two-year, $14MM contract. The former Cowboys draftee had angled for a raise this offseason, but the Dolphins did not buckle. Williams missed offseason time but ultimately returned on the deal he signed in 2022. Going down with a severe knee injury this late in the season will undoubtedly affect the former second-round pick’s 2024 market, as the Texas alum’s rehab effort will run up to, and potentially beyond, Week 1 of next season.

McDaniel said (via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson) the Dolphins will consider signing a center. Liam Eichenberg, who has bounced across the Dolphins’ offensive front during his three-year career, is set to move into the role on a fill-in basis. Eichenberg, whom Wynn beat out for the left guard job in training camp, has worked as a utility player this season — for a Miami O-line unable to keep its starting five healthy — before becoming a full-time starter once again.

Williams, 26, had missed four games earlier this season but had started the past five. Converted from Texas tackle to Cowboys guard to Dolphins center, Williams had become an important part of Miami’s top-flight offense. The Dolphins finished their Week 14 game without four of their original O-line starters, with Robert Hunt out after aggravating a hamstring injury and Terron Armstead nursing his latest ailment. Armstead, who suffered a quad injury during the Dolphins’ Black Friday game, returned for the team’s Week 13 matchup against the Commanders; the Dolphins held him out Monday due to knee and ankle injuries. Armstead, whom the team already activated from IR, has missed eight games this season. Miami’s second-stringer-laden front allowed five sacks in a 28-27 loss.

The recently extended Austin Jackson, who has settled in at right tackle, has been the only Dolphin O-lineman to start every game this season. Jackson entered the season after missing 15 games last year. Kendall Lamm started in place of Armstead, while Lester Cotton was in for Hunt. Cotton has a direct path to the starting lineup at guard, while McDaniel said he is the team’s backup center presently. Eichenberg has made one career start at center — in Week 4 of this season — but has played every position up front for the Dolphins since being drafted in the 2021 second round.

Centers who either just retired (Chase Roullier, Justin Britt) or have been connected to doing so (Rodney Hudson, Ben Jones) represent the biggest names available in free agency. The Cardinals and Titans, respectively, released Hudson and Jones this offseason. Jones, 34, had signed four contracts with the Titans and had missed just one game in his 11-year career before a two-concussion 2022 stalled his career. Hudson, 34, made three Pro Bowls as a Raider but was linked to retiring before the 2022 season; he missed 13 games last year. The injury-prone Roullier, 30, retired this summer but had worked out for the Cardinals shortly before making that decision. The Texans released Britt, 32, after he spent almost all of last season on the reserve/NFI list.

AFC East Rumors: Eichenberg, Hines, Pats

With a little more time and a lot more publicity, Dolphins offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg could have a case for Comeback Player of the Year. Not really, but Eichenberg has done an impressive job of turning around his career, which was trending downwards through his first two years in the league.

An offensive tackle at Notre Dame, Eichenberg struggled as a rookie full-time starter at left tackle in Miami. In 2022, Eichenberg slid inside to the left guard spot and delivered a more admirable performance before having his season derailed by injuries.

Eichenberg opened this year as a sixth-man for the Dolphins’ offensive line, specializing on interior play. When injuries held out starting center Connor Williams, Eichenberg stepped in to complete his trifecta of starting at every position on the left side of the line. Later on, he filled in with starts at right and left guard, as well. He’s reportedly more comfortable at right guard, but the Dolphins opted to start him at left guard last week ahead of Lester Cotton, who had started there the past two weeks.

In fact, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Miami’s staff has been so impressed with Eichenberg that, barring a miraculous return by Isaiah Wynn from a significant quadriceps injury, Eichenberg could have won the starting left guard job for the remainder of the season.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East:

  • Patriots star pass rusher Matt Judon has now missed the team’s last nine games on injured reserve. Judon has certainly missed enough time to come off of IR, but there’s been no word of that possibility yet. According to Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald, when head coach Bill Belichick was asked about the possibility of Judon returning this year, the long-time skipper replied“We’ll see. That’s a good question.” He continued, “I know he’s working hard. Matt’s been in here, works hard on a daily basis, but again, that’s a medical question that I wouldn’t be able to answer.”
  • When Bills running back Nyheim Hines suffered an off-site jet ski injury that would end his 2023 season before it even began, that put the veteran rusher in an uncomfortable position concerning his contract. Since the injury occurred away from play, Hines was placed on the non-football injury list, “which technically doesn’t require the team to pay him anything,” per Zak Keefer of The Athletic. Hines was out millions in incentives and bonuses. It took the two sides a few months to hammer out the details, but eventually, they “agreed on a smaller sum” than the $9MM over two years that they had originally agreed to. This allows the Bills to stay on good terms with Hines when he’s able to return to the team next year while saving them from having to pay his full contract for a year in which he won’t see the field.
  • When it was reported that Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown failed to make the trip to Frankfurt with the team for personal reasons, Brown took exception to the speculation that followed. Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Brown felt the need to clarify that the reason he was unable to make the trip was because of the second opinion he sought on his ankle sprain. While he did attend a funeral during the team’s visit to Germany, he was not able to spend much personal time with his family as he was due back in New England for rehab.

AFC East Notes: Bills, Patriots, Eichenberg

Buffalo-Kansas City has been one of the 2020s’ defining NFL rivalries. The AFC squads have played five times this decade, twice in the playoffs, with the Chiefs’ two postseason wins playing a role in the Bills‘ roster construction. The AFC powers’ plans intersected during the 2022 first round as well. When the Chiefs moved up from No. 29 to No. 21 in the ’22 first round, they took the player the Bills eyed. The Bills sought Trent McDuffie with their top pick last year, per’s Albert Breer, but the Chiefs were able to make a deal with the Patriots to move in front of Buffalo.

The fallout from this miss became costly for the Bills, whose subsequent trade-up — from No. 25 to No. 23 — produced Kaiir Elam, who has been unable to earn steady playing time. As Elam has vacillated between backup or emergency starter and healthy scratch, McDuffie has progressed in Kansas City. Pro Football Focus rates McDuffie eighth overall among corners; the Washington product has been a central part of the Chiefs’ defensive improvement this season.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Patriots opted not to sell at the trade deadline, keeping the door open for longer-term futures with some of their contract-year players. New England held onto Josh Uche, Michael Onwenu and Kyle Dugger despite interest coming in before the deadline. Dugger has become a player teams are monitoring ahead of free agency, with’s Jeremy Fowler noting some teams view the Division II alum as the 2024 UFA class’ second-best safety — behind the Buccaneers’ Antoine Winfield Jr. This year’s safety market producing only one contract north of $8MM per year (Jessie Bates‘ outlier $16MM-AAV accord) could impact Dugger, but it is clear the former second-round pick will be costly for the Pats to retain.
  • Benched in Week 9 and left in the States ahead of the Patriots’ Week 10 Germany trip, J.C. Jackson was initially believed to have arrived late at the team hotel the night before the Pats-Commanders game. But the recently reacquired corner did not show up at all that night,’s Mike Reiss notes. Jack Jones missed curfew as well, but Reiss adds the since-waived corner did surface later. Both players were benched for Week 9, and despite Jackson’s unavailability, the Patriots further limited Jones against the Colts. Jackson is expected to remain with the Pats, but the ballhawk has not escaped the rough patch that began last year in Los Angeles.
  • Trent Brown did not make the trip to Frankfurt for personal reasons, and Reiss adds the veteran tackle’s missed game will affect his recently reworked contract. Including $88K per game in roster bonuses, the Patriots set playing-time thresholds for additional Brown escalators as well. The starting LT would collect $1MM for playing 75% of the team’s offensive snaps this season. Hovering at 75% after Week 9, Brown has now missed two games. The low end of this incentive structure is 65%, which Reiss notes will pay out $750K. He would receive another $750K by hitting the 70% snap barrier.
  • Dolphins contract-year guard Robert Hunt will miss a second straight game due to a hamstring injury. As a result, Liam Eichenberg will complete a rare NFL feat. The 2021 second-round pick began the week practicing at left guard, his primary 2022 position, but the swingman moved to right guard midway through practice this week, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson notes. The Dolphins view Eichenberg as more comfortable there. Once Eichenberg replaces Hunt on Sunday, he will have started at all five O-line positions as a pro. While the converted tackle could not retain his LG job to start this season, having accomplished this O-line tour of sorts in his third season is certainly noteworthy. Lester Cotton will start at left guard for the Dolphins, who are uncertain to have LG first-stringer Isaiah Wynn back this season.

OL Rumors: Steelers, 49ers, Jets, Fins, Pugh

The Steelers may have executed a permanent switch at right tackle, and Chukwuma Okorafor believes it came because of comments he made near the end of the team’s Week 8 loss to the Jaguars. Pittsburgh benched Okorafor for its Thursday-night game against Tennessee, moving first-round pick Broderick Jones into the lineup. Okorafor said (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Brian Batko) the Steelers benched him because he was “acting out” toward the end of the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game. Mike Tomlin said (via The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly) Jones was deserving of an opportunity and helped the Steelers “provide a spark.”

Signed to a three-year, $29.25MM deal in 2022, Okorafor has been the Steelers’ starting right tackle since 2020. The team drafted Jones with the intent on making him its future left tackle, but a configuration in which left tackle Dan Moore moved to the right side to accommodate the rookie was floated as the more likely scenario this offseason. Since the Week 9 change, Jones and Okorafor said (via Kaboly and the Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac) they expect the Moore-Jones starting duo to remain due to Jones receiving the first-team reps this week. The Steelers’ depth chart lists Jones as the RT starter, though the Georgia product said he would prefer to play left tackle, where he lined up for the SEC powerhouse. Okorafor believes what he said has resulted in “significant” ramifications but maintains his benching was not performance-based, creating an interesting storyline to follow in Pittsburgh.

Here are some O-line subplots from elsewhere around the NFL:

  • Missing the past two games with an ankle injury, Trent Williams returned to a limited practice Thursday. Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers‘ All-Pro left tackle has dealt with more than a low ankle sprain, via’s David Bonilla. The 49ers lost both the games Williams missed, after dropping from the unbeaten ranks — in Cleveland — following Williams’ injury-driven exit in Week 6. A limited practice represents a good sign for Williams’ Week 10 availability and San Francisco’s offensive capabilities.
  • The Jets may soon be without yet another offensive lineman. Robert Saleh described Billy Turner as encountering a “concerning” injury, and’s Ian Rapoport notes the veteran blocker suffered a broken bone in his hand. This will leave Turner’s status uncertain for the Jets’ Week 10 tilt. Turner has not practiced this week, pointing to an absence. The Jets have turned to Turner at guard in the wake of Connor McGovern and Wes Schweitzer‘s IR trips. The team is likely to have Duane Brown back, however; the 38-year-old tackle — who remains on IR — has practiced fully this week. Saleh recently pointed to Brown’s return kicking Mekhi Becton back to right tackle.
  • Although left tackle Terron Armstead came off IR in time to face the Chiefs, the Dolphins played their Germany game without both starting guards. Isaiah Wynn is on IR with a potential season-ending injury, and Robert Hunt missed the game because of a hamstring ailment. Wynn fill-in Robert Jones also left the game, due to a hyperextended knee. While Mike McDaniel said Jones does not need surgery, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson notes Lester Cotton and 2022 left guard starter Liam Eichenberg are set to vie for the starting role before the Dolphins return to action in Week 11. A third-year UDFA who made his first career start in Week 9, Jones is likely to miss some time, per McDaniel.
  • Justin Pugh signed a one-year, $1.43MM deal to rejoin the Giants last month. Pugh’s second Giants contract includes an incentive package worth $2.1MM, he revealed on his NetWorth Podcast (via the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard). Pugh can earn part of that $2.1MM by hitting the 50%, 70% and 90% playing-time thresholds from the point he debuted (Week 6). Despite the October arrival, Pugh has started — at both guard and tackle — in each of the four games in which he has played this season.

Dolphins Notes: QB, Gaskin, Berrios, LG

In most cases, the Dolphins aren’t utilizing camp position battles to determine starting roles. But as the deadline to cut the roster down to 53 players draws nearer and nearer, decisions have to be made throughout the roster. Here’s a look at who’s battling for a roster spot as the preseason continues, thanks to some helpful analysis from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

  • At quarterback, the starter is set, but the backup job may be closer than you’d think. Miami signed quarterback Mike White in the first hour of free agency, making it seem like they were dead set on him taking over at QB2. Last year’s backup, Skylar Thompson, doesn’t seem willing to go down without a fight, though, making the battle more competitive than some would assume. White is the presumed winner of this position battle, but if Thompson has a stellar preseason, he has a chance to surprise.
  • After failing to sign free agent running back Dalvin Cook, the room is shaping up to hold Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and third-round rookie De’Von Achane, at the very least. If the team is going to open up a fourth roster spot for the position, it’s likely that one of Myles Gaskin or Salvon Ahmed will fill the role while the other will be on the chopping block, if not both. The Dolphins will have to determine if a fourth running back will help the team, and if not, Gaskin or Ahmed’s time in South Beach may be over.
  • Behind the team’s top two wideouts, there are a number of options to plug in. According to Jackson, AFC East mainstay Braxton Berrios seems to be taking direction from wide receivers coach Wes Welker well, giving him an edge on the depth chart. He’s competing with Cedrick Wilson, Erik Ezukanma, and Chosen Anderson for the WR3 role, and seems to have a handle on it. Anderson has been making up for a slow start to camp lately but may need to compete with River Cracraft if the team only decides to keep six wide receivers.
  • At tight end, the battle for the third tight spot poses the most intrigue, assuming the team only takes three tight ends. The starter, Durham Smythe, and the rookie, Elijah Higgins, are likely to make the roster, leaving backups Eric Saubert and Tyler Kroft fighting for what is likely going to be the final roster spot at the position. Neither is much of a factor in the passing game, so whoever shows the best blocking ability throughout the rest of camp may be rewarded the short-term job security.
  • The biggest battle on the line is the battle for the starting left guard spot. Liam Eichenberg and Isaiah Wynn appear to be in a dead heat for the job, according to Jackson. Wynn has more NFL starting experience, but Eichenberg is more familiar with the franchise. Aside from that, the other big battle is for the swing tackle role. Veteran and former starter Kendall Lamm reportedly has established a lead over Cedric Ogbuehi for the job. Seventh-round rookie Ryan Hayes could also contribute to the team depth at the position if he makes the roster.

Isaiah Wynn To Vie For Dolphins’ LG Job

The Dolphins have given 2021 second-round pick Liam Eichenberg two seasons to start on the offensive line. Although no major guard investment arrived via free agency or the draft this offseason, the third-year veteran is expected to see competition from a longtime left tackle.

Terron Armstead is going into the second season of a five-year, $75MM contract, and the Dolphins are planning to give 2020 first-round pick Austin Jackson a second chance at right tackle. This would relegate post-draft pickup Isaiah Wynn to a swing role, but the former Patriots first-rounder has extensive guard duty in his past. The Dolphins appear set to exploring that path. Wynn and Eichenberg will compete for the team’s starting left guard gig, Jim Ayello of The Athletic writes (subscription required).

Wynn spent most of his New England time as the Patriots’ starting left tackle; a short 2022 stretch at right tackle did not go especially well. Inconsistency and injury issues led to Wynn signing a one-year, $2.3MM deal. The Pats did give Wynn some time at guard, however, and the 27-year-old blocker worked as a Georgia starting guard during his sophomore and junior seasons (2015 and ’16). The Bulldogs switched Wynn to tackle during that junior year, and the 6-foot-2 blocker glided to a first-round perch after spending 2017 as the SEC program’s blindside starter. During Wynn’s time in trade rumors, some teams considered him a tackle-guard ‘tweener. The Dolphins used Wynn at multiple spots during their offseason program.

The Dolphins have a recent history of giving players extensive run at both guard and tackle. Jesse Davis was a regular at both positions during his versatile tenure in Miami, while right guard Robert Hunt came over from a rookie-year tackle role. The Dolphins also slid Jackson to guard to accommodate Eichenberg in 2021. Seeing as it is perhaps easier to list the tackles who have not been tried at guard in Miami in recent years, Wynn making his way back to his mid-2010s college position is not hard to envision.

Given Armstead and Jackson’s injury histories, Wynn and Eichenberg may be needed as starters. Armstead battled an assortment of maladies in his first Dolphins slate, seeing hip, foot, knee and pectoral setbacks limit him to 13 games last season. The ex-Saints Pro Bowler played through these ailments for much of the season, but he has missed 38 regular-season games since the start of the 2014 campaign. It would be a surprise if the soon-to-be 32-year-old blocker did not miss time in 2023. Jackson is coming off a season in which a September ankle injury caused him to miss 15 games. The Dolphins did not pick up the USC alum’s fifth-year option, but they are counting on him to bounce back. This marks Jackson’s first NFL instance of staying in the same position for a second straight year.

Eichenberg has not shown much to indicate he is a starter-caliber NFL O-lineman. The ex-Notre Dame left tackle started 16 games as a rookie, primarily playing left tackle; Pro Football Focus graded him as a bottom-five option at the position. During Eichenberg’s injury-plagued 10-start season at left guard last year, PFF graded as a bottom-three regular at that position. Eichenberg’s struggles to this point stand to both give Wynn an interesting opportunity and may require the Dolphins to keep exploring outside options up front.

The team was connected to UFA tackle George Fant earlier this offseason and hosted Cameron Fleming on a visit; Fleming has since re-signed with the Broncos. Low-cost signing Dan Feeney resides as an interior backup option. Journeyman Cedric Ogbuehi — whom the Jets cut this offseason — will try to make the team as a swing tackle.

Injury issues at tackle and the LG question mark surround a team with an injury-prone quarterback. Prior to Tua Tagovailoa‘s three-concussion (in all likelihood) 2022, the southpaw starter suffered two hand injuries and ended up on IR due to a 2021 rib fracture. The Alabama standout, of course, came into the NFL after a severe hip injury. Tagovailoa protection will go a long way toward determining the Dolphins’ viability as a contender, and the Dolphins are set to carry some questions into training camp.

AFC Injury Rumors: Bengals, Dolphins, Leonard

Cincinnati will host the Ravens in the Wild Card round of the playoffs this weekend, but they will have to do it without two of their starters on the offensive line, according to Mitch Stacy of The Associated Press. Head coach Zac Taylor confirmed that right guard Alex Cappa will join right tackle La’el Collins on the sideline this Sunday night.

Cappa had his ankle rolled over late in the third quarter last week while blocking in the pocket. Initial fears were that the injury would end his season, keeping him out for the entirety of the playoffs, and while Taylor is holding out hope for future games this January, we know that Cappa will not play this weekend.

Cappa joins Collins, who saw his season come to an end after suffering a knee injury in a Week 16 win over the Patriots. Collins has been replaced by Hakeem Adeniji who played in a backup role this season after starting 13 games last year. Adeniji drew criticism for his pass protection in the playoffs last season, when the offensive line drew most of the blame for the team’s loss in Super Bowl LVI.

Cappa will be replaced by backup Max Scharping. After starting 33 games in his first three seasons with the Texans, Scharping was picked up by the Bengals after being waived just prior to the season. The offensive line was a huge weakness last year for a Bengals team that still made it to the Super Bowl. They may have to struggle over that hurdle once again if they want to win it all in February.

Here are a couple other injury rumors from around the AFC, starting with another playoff squad:

  • If the Bengals’ offensive line situation is considered bad, the Dolphins‘ has to be considered downright tragic as the team practiced today without three starters and three backups on the offensive line alone, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Starting left guard Liam Eichenberg missed today as he deals with a hand injury. After that, the remaining five linemen who missed practice are the team’s top five tackles. First, tackles Austin Jackson and Eric Fisher remain on injured reserve with an ankle and calf injury, respectively. Jackson is eligible to return from IR but isn’t quite ready to, while Fisher is not yet eligible to return. Right tackle Brandon Shell is dealing with a high ankle sprain and mild knee sprain and is likely going to be out this weekend in Buffalo. Kendall Lamm has been dealing with an ankle issue and is questionable to play on Sunday. Lastly, left tackle Terron Armstead missed practice as he deals with multiple ailments including injuries to his hip, foot, knee, and pectoral muscle, according to Jackson. Not one to be subdued by pain, Armstead told Jackson that as long as his muscles function, he’ll be playing against the Bills. Potential backup options include Greg Little and starting right guard Robert Hunt, with Robert Jones filling in the guard spot. Geron Christian, Michael Dieter, and practice squad linemen should all be ready to hear their names called, as well.
  • Colts star linebacker Shaquille Leonard missed most of the season this year as he dealt with a nerve issue that has limited the use of his left calf. Leonard had back surgery to the address the issue in June but never saw the results he’d hoped for. Leonard and Indianapolis staff found it necessary to undergo a second surgery and, according to Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star, it seems to have been much more effective. Leonard told Erickson that, after the second surgery, “the nerves are re-firing in his leg…in a way that didn’t happen after the first surgery.” Leonard is one of the premier players at his position, so signs that he is starting to progress back to his old self are welcome signs, for sure.

Dolphins Activate OL Liam Eichenberg, Place RB Myles Gaskin On IR

The Dolphins made a pair of injured reserve transactions today, according to the team’s official Twitter account, activating former starting left guard Liam Eichenberg while placing running back Myles Gaskin on IR. A year ago, both of these transactions would have appeared to be major, but at this point in the season, the moves may only affect Miami’s depth heading into a possible postseason run.

Despite being selected early in the second round of the 2021 draft, Eichenberg has not seen the success of his early-round teammates drafted before him, starters wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips, and safety Jevon Holland. Eichenberg became an immediate starter as a second-round rookie last season, starting 16 of 17 games at left tackle for Miami. The adjustment from Notre Dame to the NFL proved difficult for Eichenberg, who would grade out as the fourth-worst tackle in the league that year, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Miami tried to help Eichenberg out during his sophomore season, signing veteran Saints tackle Terron Armstead to a five-year deal and moving Eichenberg inside to left guard. While Eichenberg is no longer ranked at the very bottom of his position group (currently graded out as the 73rd-best guard out of 83), his PFF offensive grade has gotten worse since moving inside to guard. Eichenberg’s struggles came to a point when a knee injury in a Week 8 win over the Lions would land him on IR. Eichenberg’s knee injury was initially feared to be a season-ending MCL sprain, but further testing showed the potential for his return and, after proving fully healed, Eichenberg was designated for return on December 7, making tomorrow the last possible day for Miami to activate him before forcing him to sit out for the remainder of the season on IR.

In Eichenberg’s absence, the Dolphins started a second-year undrafted guard out of Middle Tennessee State, Robert Jones. Eichenberg’s return does not necessarily indicate a return to his starting role. The Dolphins may choose to go that route, but Jones has performed well in his seven starts in place of Eichenberg, even outperforming Eichenberg in the eyes of PFF. Jones currently grades out as the 39th-best guard in the NFL this season with grades far above Eichenberg’s. Head coach Mike McDaniel may choose to give Eichenberg a chance to earn his job back, or he may stick with what’s been working and count on Eichenberg as a depth piece as they push for a wild card spot in the playoffs.

Gaskin has taken quite a fall from grace after performing as Miami’s top running back for the past two seasons before 2022. It was assumed that Gaskin’s role would diminish when the team acquired running back Raheem Mostert in free agency back in March. What wasn’t expected was that college and professional teammate Salvon Ahmed would move ahead of Gaskin on the depth chart, playing in six more games than Gaskin. When Jeff Wilson was traded to Miami back in November, Gaskin became a depth piece in the running backs room.

It’s unclear exactly the reason that Gaskin is being placed on IR. Some reports claimed he missed last weekend’s game because of a knee injury, despite not appearing on the injury report, while other sources reported it was due to illness. Regardless, Gaskin will miss the remainder of the regular season, and since his team has five activations remaining, if his team can make it to the AFC championship, he will be eligible to return. Otherwise, Gaskin’s 2022 season has come to an end.

Dolphins Designate OL Liam Eichenberg For Return

The Dolphins’ offensive line should soon be getting some reinforcement. Miami designated offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg for return from injured reserve, as passed along by Aaron Wilson of (via Twitter).

Eichenberg landed on injured reserve with a knee injury in early November. He ultimately sat out the required four games before returning to practice today. While it sounds like the offensive lineman is still ramping up, coach Mike McDaniel sounds anxious to reinsert the player into the starting lineup whenever he’s ready to go.

“Most of the [practice] will be on the side,” McDaniel said of Eichenberg (via Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald), “but he’s done an unbelievable job of getting himself really to where he’s at from the injury. It’s to his credit that that type of injury he’s come back so fast. I’m excited for him because he was playing his best football when he got injured.”

The 2021 second-round pick started 16 of his 17 games as a rookie and started each of his eight games in 2022. While Pro Football Focus hasn’t been fond of Eichenberg’s performance through his first year-plus in the NFL, McDaniel indicated that the lineman was starting to find his own before getting sidelined with an injury.

The head coach’s vote of confidence seems to indicate that Eichenberg will slide back into the starting lineup. Robert Jones has started four games at left guard filling in for his injured teammate, and the second-year pro has shown better than Eichenberg, per PFF. This will be one of several OL questions for the Dolphins heading into the final stretch of the season, especially with Terron Armstead set to return.

Dolphins Place OL Liam Eichenberg On IR, Activate Austin Jackson

The Dolphins have made a pair of moves affecting their offensive line. The team announced on Tuesday that they have placed guard Liam Eichenberg on IR, while activating tackle Austin Jackson.

Eichenberg was carted off the field during Sunday’s win over the Vikings on Sunday, and is believed to have suffered an MCL injury. Today’s news confirms that an extended absence will be forthcoming, as he will now be sidelined for at least the next four weeks.

A second-round pick in 2021, Eichenberg was seen as one of the top tackles in last year’s class. After a successful career at Notre Dame, he primarily saw time as the left tackle in his rookie season with the Dolphins, filling in as well on the right side. His PFF grade of 50.8 was a reflection of the team’s overall struggles up front, which led to a number of significant investments to bolster the unit this offseason.

That included the five-year, $75MM deal given to Terron Armstead, a move which has so far solidified the LT position as intended. That allowed Eichenberg to shift inside, though an improvement in his play has yet to take place. The 24-year-old currently ranks 71st out of 81 qualifying guards with a PFF grade of 44.9. Miami has a number of options to turn to as his replacement, including swing tackle Greg Little.

The latter could indeed see playing time on the inside once Jackson returns to game action. The USC product suffered an injury during the team’s season opener, which quickly landed him on IR. Miami turned to Little as his replacement protecting Tua Tagovailoa‘s blindside, but with limited success, based on Little’s league-worst tackle PFF rating. Jackson had been designated to return just under three weeks ago, so the Dolphins had to activate him ahead of Sunday’s game for him to be eligible to play again in 2022.

This move will leave the Dolphins with six activations for the remainder of the campaign. In addition to Eichenberg, the team has cornerback Byron Jones available to be activated at some point. In the short-term, at least, they will move forward with one staring o-lineman back in the fold while needing to replace another.