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Miami’s Brian Flores on the Defensive Line: We wanted to bring in good players

NFL: Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins allowed 135 yards per game on the ground in 2019 — the sixth-worst mark in the league. In 2018, they allowed 145 yards per game on the ground, the league’s second-worst mark.

2019 also featured the worst pass rush in the league, averaging 1.4 sacks per game. Things weren’t better in 2018 as the Dolphins averaged just under two sacks a game, the league’s third-worst total.

In order to rebuild the trenches, Miami signed Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah to multi-year deals, but also drafted Raekwon Davis (pick 56), Jason Strowbridge (pick 154) and Curtis Weaver (pick 164).

“We wanted to bring in good players – guys who fit the criteria we’re looking for: tough, smart, talented, able to communicate – and I think we feel good about the guys we acquired,” Coach Brian Flores said of the additions to the defensive line when meeting with the media on Tuesday. “At the same time, it takes time for a defensive line to gel, so we need to hit the practice field.”

As the Dolphins try to put the pieces together and build an improved defense, it will take some time before Flores can identify where each player fits.

“We need to get together in meetings and talk through calls, communication, scheme, where guys fit the best, what specific role is best for each individual player,” Flores said. “That’s what training camp’s about, so we’ve got a long way to go. There was a makeover to a degree, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

Lawson and Ogbah, based on their experience, are early favorites to see plenty of playing time at defensive end, but according to Pro Football Focus, Weaver may be a hidden gem of the 2020 draft class.

An added challenge for Miami’s coaching staff is identifying the best players without seeing them in game action. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL has cancelled all preseason games.

“It is an odd year, it’s a different year; but like I said last week when I talked to you guys, these are the cards we’ve been dealt, so we’ve got to play this hand,” Flores said. “There are going to be some obstacles but we’ve got to make the best of the situation. I think as coaches, as a coaching staff, we understand that.”

In addition to no preseason games, full-contact practices won’t tart until Aug. 17, with week one of the regular season scheduled to begin just three weeks later.

“We have a plan in place, so we’ve put a lot of thought into trying to build a competitive team in a short period of time,” Flores explained. “What that entails, I’m not going to get into right now – or what we felt like it entails, I’m not going to get into right now. We put a lot of thought into that really in all areas.”

While Flores and his staff have some unique challenges in 2020, the goal surrounding his defensive line is pretty straight forward — show signs of improvement for a unit that has been one of the league’s worst in recent years.