Dolphins practice notes: Ellerbe update

DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins (3-3) had their second practice in preparation for Sunday's game against the first-place New England Patriots (5-2).

Here are several notes and observations:

  • Starting middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe practiced Wednesday for the second day in a row. He is coming off a shoulder injury and didn’t work on the side with trainers, which is a good sign. Ellerbe is hopeful to return against New England, and Miami’s defense certainly needs him. Ellerbe missed his first game of the season in last week’s loss to Buffalo.

  • New offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie continues to work exclusively as a left tackle. Despite coach Joe Philbin saying the team is undecided, it’s clear the Dolphins have made up their mind. The major question is whether McKinnie can get ready in time for Sunday’s game. The Dolphins will be off Thursday and have a light walk-through on Friday. Therefore, McKinnie will only have two meaningful practices under his belt.

  • I watched McKinnie closely in practice today. He’s a big man and hasn’t shown much burst in the portions of practice open to the media. McKinnie is coming off a recent knee injury, and while I think he can help immediately in the passing game, I have some concerns about the fit in the running game. The Dolphins run a lot of stretch plays that require their offensive linemen to run sideline to sideline. That could be a challenge for a player with McKinnie’s size.

  • The Dolphins signed free-agent wide receiver Nate Palmer to the practice squad. Miami had an open spot available.