Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin should take all the time he needs before returning to the Miami Dolphins. If he needs another week, another month or the rest of the season, the Dolphins should not push this issue.
Multiple sources told ESPN.com this week that teammates were ribbing Martin in the lunch room Monday, which caused Martin to become irate and leave the team. He hasn't returned since. Fox Sports also reported Thursday night that this wasn't the first time Dolphins teammates had picked on Martin.
Martin walked out before a huge game -- Miami's crucial 22-20 overtime victory against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night -- and is reportedly seeking counseling for emotional issues. Speaking after the game, several teammates left the door open for Martin to return.
"I want him to come back to work," offensive tackle Tyson Clabo said. "He's a talented, young football player. I can't say what he's feeling. But I know if and when he wants to come back, I will be there to shake his hand."
Clabo played his best game of the season Thursday in place of Martin. Maybe he can hold the position down for the next few weeks, if needed.
Martin, 24, needs time and space to clear his head. A player must be fully invested, especially when you play a taxing sport like professional football. Martin should be on his own clock and not anyone else's.
This entire episode should be an important lesson to the Dolphins' locker room. The time for ribbing and joking is over. This isn't high school. The Dolphins' primary focus should be on winning and trying to make something of their season.