Dolphins ORT Vernon Carey has started every game in the past four seasons and the season opener each of the last five seasons, not counting 2010. He helped anchor the league's fourth-best rushing attack in '09, and the Miami native now leads a group with three new faces on the interior.
Carey grew up in Miami, went to the University of Miami (Fla.) and was drafted by the Dolphins in the first round in 2004. "I was always a Dolphins fan, watching them every Sunday, and now I'm living what I was watching as a kid. It's a dream come true," Carey told PFW.
Paired with Pro Bowl OLT Jake Long, the Dolphins boast one of the top tackle tandems in the league. They certainly aren't the reason the team is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry on the ground.
In the past six season openers with Carey at tackle, 12 different players have started at the three interior line positions, including three players who joined the fold in this year's season opener. It took until the end of the preseason for the interior of the O-line to be solidified, as three new starters filled the unit — OLG Richie Incognito, ORG John Jerry and C Joe Berger.
"I've had like nine different guards, and this is my seventh year, so I'm used to different guys getting in there," Carey said.
"Richie is an older guy who plays physical and with a lot of passion. He's going to come every Sunday and give you his all. Berger is a new starter, but he played a lot for us last year when Jake Grove went down."
The O-line was shaky at times in its first few games, but the pass protection has been superb. The 'Fins have allowed just nine sacks this season, including zero to the Packers in a Week Six overtime victory coming off a bye.
"During the bye week we worked a lot on blocking linebackers. We worked on things we needed to work on and accomplished that," Carey said.
With games against the Steelers, Ravens, Titans and Bears remaining on the schedule, the Dolphins' front line will have its hands full with some of the league's top defenses.
"We are going up against some good defenses coming up and need to increase our yards per carry and take some pressure off the quarterback," said Carey. "Whatever the coaches call, we've got to run it."