DAVIE — Miami Dolphins veteran left tackle Branden Albert has pulled rookie left guard Laremy Tunsil aside a few times this season and delivered this message: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Albert is speaking about a maturity needed to maximize potential. To study your plays. Work on technique. Show up on time. Take notes. Study film.
And yes, play hurt.
Albert played with a brace on a surgically-repaired wrist last Sunday at Baltimore. And right next to him was Tunsil, playing with a brace to support a shoulder injury.
“Even at 60 percent (healthy), you’re one of the best talents in the league,” Albert told Tunsil last week.
In the locker room Wednesday, Tunsil overheard Albert speaking about him and called out to his mentor, with a smile, “I’m hurting B!”
But the lessons imparted on Tunsil by Albert are serious.
“He did a good job fighting through his injury,” Albert said. “That shows what he has in him. The (scouting) combine can’t measure that. It’s something he’s learning. It’s something I learned.”
Tunsil committed three penalties and was did not play up to the high standard he has created in his first season.
Albert said he was far from perfect.
It was very interesting to hear Albert, a 6-foot-5, 314-pound, nine-year veteran, admit “I was worried” about how the matchup with Suggs would go.
“He’s a Hall of Famer,” Albert said. “Don’t think I go into this game knowing I’m going to do the impossible. I was worried. He’s a hell of a football player. I think it was more my will and my power. Not perfect. Could there have been some holding calls? For the most part I try to do what I try to do. I was worried.”
This week, coach Adam Gase said Albert and Tunsil “battled.”
“I know it wasn’t as clean a day as (Tunsil) wanted,” Gase said. “It wasn’t always what we wanted, but the fact that those two guys were out there makes a difference for us. I know their teammates were thinking (about) the fact that they fought to get back. They wanted to be out there. They wanted to try to help us win.”
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill said both players earned his respect.
“It’s a tough sport, a tough game, and guys have the opportunities to either play tough and play through pain or try to sit out an extra week until they’re healthy,” Tannehill said. “But both of those guys really stepped up big. Especially B.A. coming off a surgery. He wanted to be out there so bad. In talking with him, it was really important for him to be out there.”
Albert said he is in much less pain today than he was last week.
“It’s making progress,” he said. “I will figure out on Sunday how to help my team.”
It’s a lesson he learned from former Chiefs veterans like Brian Waters. It’s something he’s come to expect, watching fellow veterans like Jermon Bushrod play through numerous injuries this season.
“You know what you’re playing for,” Albert said. “You know that the guys on the offensive line are counting on you. You know you have to dig down deep inside yourself and say, ‘Yeah, I’m not 100 percent but you’re supposed to be the great player you’re supposed to be, so figure it out.'”