In light of Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jake Long being placed on injured reserve, rookie Jonathan Martin suddenly finds himself in the spotlight.

Yes, Martin moved over from right tackle to replace Long on the left side after Long was injured in the first half of Sunday’s game against New England, and he generally received positive reviews for his performance.

Now, Martin is in line to start at left tackle for the last four games of the regular season. For his very first test, Martin will spend a part of Sunday afternoon’s game at San Francisco lined up opposite Aldon Smith, who just so happens to lead the NFL with 17.5 sacks.

As Dolphins fans know, Martin has plenty of experience at left tackle, having played at that position during his time at Stanford University, where he protected Andrew Luck’s blind side.

Playing left tackle in the NFL, though, is a whole different ballgame. Seeing how Martin can handle his assignment will be one of the big story lines for the Dolphins down the stretch.

Martin has done a more than respectable job all season as the starter at right tackle, but his value could really get a boost with a strong finish.

There’s little question Martin has a bright future, but he’s only one of several rookies or first-year players who could become important players for the Dolphins in the years to come.
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