KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Miami Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert will see numerous familiar faces when he looks across the line of scrimmage Sunday.
Albert, of course, anchored the left side of the Chiefs offensive line from 2008-13 before signing a free-agent contract with the Dolphins in March.
The Chiefs’ former first-round pick (15th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft is now in full game week preparations as the Dolphins host the Chiefs at Sun Life Stadium in Week 3.
“Every time it pops up when I’m watching film,” Albert said during Wednesday’s media conference call, “I’m thinking I’m about to watch myself, but I’m watching the defense and stuff and watching guys I’ve practiced with. Guys I went to war with. And now I’m playing against these guys. It’s kind of weird.”
One of the players the 6-7, 315-pound Albert will see a lot is right outside linebacker Tamba Hali.
The battle features a pair of 2013 Pro Bowl selections, but it’s a contest Albert eagerly anticipates given the practice sessions over the years.
“He’s helped me be the player I am now going against him in practice,” Albert said. “So now it’s live action. This one counts. It’s going to be a good battle.”
The six seasons of memories of playing in Kansas City and the past camaraderie within the locker room run deep with Albert.
He said hearing of the season-ending Achilles injury to inside linebacker Derrick Johnson caused him to be “sick in my stomach.”
Albert said he also felt bad when hearing of the season-ending injuries to defensive end Mike DeVito (Achilles) and guard/tackle Jeff Allen (elbow).
“I went to war with these guys,” Albert said. “They’re good people to me, guys I was in the trenches with.”
He shared words for with the Chiefs offensive line where he took on a mentorship role, a trait he learned from a former Chiefs lineman.
“I always want to see those guys do good,” Albert said. “Those guys, they looked up to me. I was the big guy in the room. I was the Brian Waters to them, like Brian Waters was to me.”
Albert felt especially sympathetic for Allen, who lined up as the left guard on Albert’s immediate right the past two seasons.
“When I saw he was hurt for the season,” Albert said. “I felt bad for him because I figured it was his turn-around year to make his claim, to make his name instead of being under me. It’s time for him to step out of my shadow and make his own name. Unfortunately he was hurt. But I think he will bounce back whenever he comes back and be the player he should be.”
In the meantime, Albert has settled in with his new team and teammates.
And he’s impressed Dolphins coach Joe Philbin on how quickly he’s acclimated to the new surroundings and fits with the team chemistry.
“He’s a real high-character individual, No. 1,” Philbin said during Wednesday’s media conference call. “Secondly, he’s never missed a day since the offseason program started and the OTAs and training camp and all of that. I think he’s really enjoyed being here and has meshed with the guys very well.”
Albert is happy in Miami, but he’ll likely find it difficult to forget how being in Kansas City helped develop him into who he is today.
“I went there as a young boy and came out as a grown man.” Albert said. “I have love for Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri, both sides. They treat me well there for the most part. I had my ups and downs, and people criticized me and said what they said about me. But for the most part, I’ve got a lot of great memories of being in Kansas City.”