By Andrew Abramson and Hal Habib
The Palm Beach Post (MCT)
---- — Guard Richie Incognito said Tuesday that he’s trying “to weather” the intense controversy during his indefinite suspension from the Miami Dolphins amid charges he bullied teammate Jonathan Martin to the extent Martin left the team.
“I’m just trying to weather the storm right now,” Incognito told Miami’s WSVN-Channel 7 in his first public comments since the club announced his suspension Sunday evening. “This will pass.”
Incognito would not comment on transcripts of voice mails in which he reportedly threatened Martin and used a racial slur.
The Dolphins moved forward without those two starting offensive linemen Tuesday, signing a guard off Dallas’ practice squad to fill Incognito’s roster spot.
There are no indications that Martin will return soon. But while the NFL is investigating the case and Martin’s representatives have gotten involved, Martin is still being paid by the team and is taking up a roster spot.
A league official said Tuesday that if Martin is placed on the reserve/non-football injury list, he will be done for the season.
The Dolphins signed guard David Arkin, who previously played for the Cowboys and was on the team’s practice squad this season. The Dolphins’ offensive line has struggled all season and now has major depth issues.
Nate Garner will start for Incognito and Tyson Clabo replaces Martin, but the Dolphins could be in trouble if any offensive line starter is injured.
Coach Joe Philbin and players did not meet with the media Tuesday, but the drama has continued to garner national attention. During the daily media briefing at the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said he was confident President Obama, who has spoken out against bullying, is aware of the Dolphins’ situation.
Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter, who briefly played with the Dolphins, criticized Philbin on ESPN, saying coaches like Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells and Nick Saban would have never let a locker room issue escalate to this level.
Philbin said he spoke to Martin and his family regularly after Martin left the team last Monday but that he did not hear of any allegations against other Dolphins players until Martin’s representatives brought it to Miami’s attention Sunday. That’s when the voice mails were given to the Dolphins and Incognito was suspended.
“The reason why coaches in this league are great is because they care about the players,” said Carter, who lives in Boca Raton. “The reason why (Martin) didn’t want to talk to (Philbin) when they met is because he didn’t trust him. When a young kid can’t go to a coach and tell him what’s happening to him, that’s how guys get weeded out in this league.”
Redskins linebacker London Fletcher told The Washington Post that he blamed the Dolphins veteran players for not doing enough to make Martin feel comfortable.
“I know Incognito is the one who is, I guess, the main culprit,” Fletcher said. “But I think probably he’s not the only guy that will end up coming out as being a guy who was giving Jonathan Martin a hard time, going beyond what the norm is.
“I’m real disappointed in the leadership in the locker room down there in Miami.”
But former Dolphins running back Ricky Williams, who himself had personality disorder issues while in the NFL and retired during the prime of his career because of issues with marijuana, told CNN “the NFL isn’t for everyone.”
Upon returning to the NFL, Williams played one season with Incognito in Miami.
“I see this kid (Martin), a very intelligent kid, his parents are attorneys, he went to Stanford and had these expectations about what the NFL would be,” Williams said. “If you look at his career, he really hasn’t had as much success as he wanted to have, and things have been tough. And I’m sure things got out of hand with him and Richie and now we are where we are.”
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