All over the depth chart, the Miami Dolphins are slotting new names in 2013. From wide receiver to the offensive line, and from the secondary to linebacker, Miami is a different team than they were in 2012. Last week, during the first Organized Team Activity (OTA) of the offseason, new linebacker Dannell Ellerbe spoke about the challenges facing a revamped defense this year.
"It's always communication because you've got guys coming in who didn't play this defense last year, and all the communication and all the terminology is different. So, it's a matter of how quick guys can catch on and just fill in."
The Dolphins could have four or five new starters on defense this year, including two new linebackers with Ellerbe joined by Philip Wheeler. With the massive turnover, there is concern that the Dolphins may not be able to build the chemistry needed to win in the NFL. Ellerbe, however, disagrees.
"We should be relatively smooth by training camp. That's why we go and do these OTAs and training camp and things like that. I'd say by the season everything should be fine and everything should be smooth too."
The Dolphins continue their OTAs this week, with a three day set of practices, starting Wednesday. The final OTA will be held next week, June 3-6. The mandatory minicamp will be held June 11-13.
How has Ellerbe transitioned personally to the Dolphins and Miami?
"It's been a great situation for me just coming in here and showing what I can do, showing that I grasp a hold of this defense. It has a lot of key components to it that I'm fairly familiar with, so it shouldn't be hard. I feel like be training camp I'll have everything down like I did in Baltimore."
The Dolphins are looking to improve their defensive performance from last year, when they finished the season 13th in rush defense and 27th against the pass. The team's addition of speed in the linebacking corps, as well as focusing on players who can create turnovers, is all in an attempt to fix the weaknesses from last year. Will it all come together in Miami? Ellerbe believes so, and he tells us why.
"It's just the fun we have on defense. How the guys attack the day, how hard they work out and how hard they train, and just showing that they want to win. Speed too. This is the youngest defense I have ever been a part of."
Young and, hopefully, hungry.