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Jake Long struggling for Miami Dolphins this season

In his first four years in the NFL, Jake Long garnered a reputation as perhaps the league's preemiment left tackle.

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Long is still just 27 years old and ostensibly smack in the prime of his career. But he wasn't near the same dominant presence in the Miami Dolphins' first four games this season.

Long went down with a sprained left knee ligament in training camp -- an injury documented on HBO's "Hard Knocks" -- but there haven't been any indications of ongoing physical ailments for the four-time Pro Bowl lineman.

"I'm working to get better every single game," Long said, via The Miami Herald. "I think I've done some good things. I've had some bad plays, too. But just working every single day to get better, and I think I've gotten better as time has gone on." has Long ranked as the league's 43rd-best tackle entering Week 5. In Week 4's loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Long struggled in run blocking and allowed a sack for the second time in three weeks. He allowed just five sacks in 14 games last season.

"He's playing well," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. "I'm overall pleased with the offensive line. There's not a player on the team that I'm satisfied with, but I think overall, he's contributing nicely."

Feel free to read into the tempered nature of Philbin's praise. Jake Long hasn't been Jake Long. You wonder if the Dolphins know something we don't.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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