Don't Count Carey Out Yet

Vernon Carey has started 103 of the 117 games he's played for the Dolphins. It appears the team's starting right guard will continue to build on those numbers despite suffering what initially appeared to be possible season-ending ankle injury.

Carey, whose left leg was rolled up on Thursday during a goal-line run late in the Dolphins' 20-19 loss to the Cowboys, left Dallas on crutches. However, an MRI of the ankle showed there wasn't a fracture, and the swelling subsided in less than 48 hours.

Carey's improvement has been so rapid that he's walking without a boot, and the former University of Miami standout should be able to start Sunday's home game against Oakland if he can make it through this week's practices.

"I thought it was much worse, but it looked and felt worse than it was," said Carey, the 19th overall pick in the 2004 draft.

Having Carey finish the season gives Miami's offensive line a chance to continue developing. Despite allowing a disappointing 34 sacks in 11 games, the unit has improved over the past month from a pass-protection standout.

The line's continued growth will be critical this week considering Oakland has produced 32 sacks. However, the Raiders are fairly soft against the run. Counting the 172 rushing yards the Bears gained in Sunday's 25-20 loss to Oakland, the Raiders' defense is allowing 5.29 yards per carry this season.

The Cowboys held the Dolphins to 3.6 yards per rush. The recent struggles have Miami's rushing average at 3.9, the first time the average has dipped under 4.0 yards per attempt all season.

If Carey does suffer a setback, it's likely that Nate Garner, who plays every position on the offensive line, would serve as his replacement, starting his second game of the season and the 10th overall of his four-year career.

Carey has started all but two games he's played for the Dolphins the past seven seasons, but considering the Dolphins tore up his old, lucrative contract and signed him to a one-year deal this summer, 2011 might be his final season in Miami.

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