Injuries mounting for Dolphins' defense

MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins consistently take a “next man up” mentality. But what happens when the next player keeps getting injured?

After a relatively healthy three weeks, Miami’s defense is being hit hard with injuries. The bye week is coming at just the right time for the Dolphins (3-2). Miami suffered some new injuries and is still reeling from old ones following a 26-23 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

The list of injured defensive players is a long one. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder), cornerback Nolan Carroll (shoulder), defensive end Cameron Wake (knee) and cornerback Dimitri Patterson (groin) are all starters who either didn’t play or couldn’t finish Sunday’s game against Baltimore. Several other Dolphins players are also banged up on defense, but played through it.

“That’s the view of the NFL: When a guy goes down, the next guy should be ready to step in and fill that void,” Dolphins safety Reshad Jones said in the locker room afterward. “I feel like the backups did a pretty good job coming in and filling that void.”

Miami’s defense kept the points down, relatively speaking. But the Dolphins allowed 384 yards in the loss and couldn’t get key stops in the second half.

Miami’s short-handed defense was clearly gassed in the third and fourth quarters. The rotation was shortened because of injuries, and Baltimore took advantage by scoring 20 second-half points.

The Dolphins were a strong second-half team in the first three games. But Miami had a short week of preparation, and injuries have this group gasping for air. The Dolphins allowed 133 yards rushing on 40 carries.

“It’s hard to lose people in the game,” Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi said. “It was definitely hard on us.”

Miami will get two weeks to recover before facing the Buffalo Bills (2-3) on Oct. 20 at Sun Life Stadium. That should provide ample time for most of Miami’s defensive players to return. Miami needs to win at home, especially within the division.

The Dolphins need a better overall performance from their defense week in and week out if they want to put themselves in position to make a playoff push. The Dolphins fell to 1-1 at home this season, and have lost two straight.

“I want to be 5-0 as a player, just for this team, because we work really hard,” Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler said. “But we’re not proud with 3-2. We’re going to take it and we’re going to learn from the mistakes of this game and make sure we’re not 3-3 after the bye.”