NFL training camps are just around the corner.
The Miami Dolphins enter the 2014 season with a lot of excitement but also questions. This week ESPN.com’s Dolphins page takes a look at several key players who need to play well this season.
Next, we take a look at Miami starting linebacker Dannell Ellerbe:
Biggest reason for hope: Position change
The Dolphins are shaking things up this year in hopes of getting better production. Ellerbe struggled at middle linebacker last season. This offseason Miami moved outside linebacker Koa Misi inside and Ellerbe outside. The goal is to get more playmaking from Ellerbe and Misi. Things looked solid in the offseason. Miami’s defense was definitely ahead of the offense in practices open to the media. However, it’s hard to fully gauge a physical position such as linebacker in shorts and without contract. We will know more about the switch in training camp and the preseason.
Biggest reason for concern: Underachieving group
Everyone within the Dolphins’ organization, including the players themselves, will admit Miami’s linebackers underachieved. Ellerbe signed a big contract coming off a Super Bowl win with the Baltimore Ravens. But he didn’t take over Miami’s defense, as expected, last season. Ellerbe must prove last year was just a down year. He certainly has a few excuses. Ellerbe played with new teammates and learned a new scheme in Miami for the first time in several years. Ellerbe, Misi and fellow linebacker Philip Wheeler must prove they can perform better in their second year together.