Vernon Carey's ankle injury not as bad as feared

Vernon Carey's seven-year tenure with the Miami Dolphins will probably end this season, but at least it won't end prematurely.

In Thursday's 20-19 loss to the Dallas Cowboys the Dolphins' started right guard had his left ankle rolled up on during a goal line run that took place in the fourth quarter.

Carey left Dallas on crutches. There was initial concern about Carey, who has started 103 of the 117 games he's placed for the Dolphins, missing the final five games of the season. But 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 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 NFL 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 shown improvements over the past month from a pass protection standout.

Their continued growth will be critical because Oakland has produced 32 sacks this season.

But the Raiders are fairly soft against the run. Counting the 172 rushing yards the Chicago 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. Those struggles has Miami's rushing average at 3.9, and this is the first time the average has been under 4.0 yards per attempt all season.

Carey has started all but two games he's played for the Dolphins the past seven seasons. He's started at tackle every year but this one because Tony Sparano opted to convert him to guard when Marc Colombo was signed and given the right tackle spot.

Because the team opted to restructure his deal during training camp Carey's set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and it's possible that this 30-year-old could, who has lived in South Florida his entire life, could be playing his final games for the Dolphins.

But at least he won't be ending the season on injured reserves.

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