Dolphins' defense aims to get healthy?

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins were playing without four defensive starters by the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 26-23 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (groin) didn’t play, and defensive end Cameron Wake (knee), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder) and cornerback Nolan Carroll (ribs) all couldn’t finish the game.

Miami (3-2) hopes the bye week gets some -- or all -- of the team’s defensive starters healthy in time for its Oct. 20 game against the Buffalo Bills (2-3). After losing two straight games, the Dolphins are limping, and this is a good time for a bye week. Miami cannot afford a third consecutive defeat to fall to .500, especially against a division foe.

Miami’s defense will try to have most hands on deck for the Bills game.

“I mentioned to the players on defense I think we’ll be the healthiest we’ve been since the opening game,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle explained. “I’m not sure how everybody’s status will be, but I know it will be better than [Sunday] and it will be better than we had in the last couple of weeks.”

Defense remains the strength of Miami. However, the group hasn’t played its best football the past two weeks, in part due to injuries.

Wake played one series on his sprained knee against the Ravens and didn’t return. He wore a heavy brace on his left knee. Wake still isn’t 100 percent but should be closer to full strength after the bye.

Patterson has missed four straight games after straining his groin. He didn’t know Monday whether he would be ready to return in two weeks, but Patterson sounded anxious to return.

“It’s definitely tough,” Patterson said. “You want to be out there to help your team the best way you can and contribute in some form or fashion. But those guys have been competing.”

Ellerbe and Carroll both were injured against the Ravens and didn’t return. Carroll landed awkwardly on his ribs while defending a pass and Ellerbe injured his shoulder in the first half.

“We will definitely be healthy with this bye week,” Carroll said. “When we’re playing Buffalo, it will be a week and a half, two weeks if you count it like that. So we’ll get everybody back and guys will start feeling better.”