With one starting tackle and the other questionable to play at the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins have elevated two practice squad offensive linemen.
Veteran Kendall Lamm and undrafted rookie James Empey were called up on Saturday.
The Dolphins (8-3) have right tackle Austin Jackson already ruled out with his ankle injury. Terron Armstead, three-time Pro Bowl left tackle, is also struggling with a lingering toe injury, and is unlikely to play against the 49ers (7-4).
Assuming neither plays, Miami is likely to start veteran Brandon Shell at right tackle, where he has most of his career experience and has done well in Jackson’s absence, while placing fourth-year tackle Greg Little on the left side. Both relief tackles have an uphill battle against a talented San Francisco defensive front and passing rush that includes star defensive end Nick Bosa, a former St. Thomas Aquinas High Standout who has 11 ½ sacks this season.
Lamm and Empey help provide depth on Sunday for an offensive line that will also have Michael Deiter as a reserve while starting Connor Williams at center, Robert Jones at left guard and Robert Hunt at right tackle.
Lamm was just signed to Miami’s practice squad on Monday. He has seven seasons of NFL experience between time with the Houston Texans (2015-18), Cleveland Browns (2019-20) and last year with the Tennessee Titans. He was with the Detroit Lions for training camp this preseason.
Lamm has 86 career games played with 28 starts.
“He’s established himself in this league,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said of Lamm on Monday. “Playing at this level, he has done a good job. I think the most NFL playing experience that you have on your NFL team at the offensive line position is key, just because that’s not something you want to leave as a reserve or on the bench and enter your first situation. It’s not at all ideal. He’s a good player and I’m happy to have him around.
Empey signed with the Dolphins Sept. 1 before the start of the season. He entered the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent, but did not make their roster.
Miami also had the option of signing practice squad tackle Kion Smith to the active roster. The team had already used their three free lifts on him, so a roster spot should have been cleared to get him on board.