Dolphins' depth on defense put to test

DAVIE, Fla. -- It was the biggest concern I had about the Miami Dolphins entering the season: Spending more than $200 million in free agency fixed the starting lineup, but did the Dolphins have enough depth to overcome injuries?

We are about to find out as Miami (3-0) prepares for the New Orleans Saints (3-0) on “Monday Night Football” in a battle of undefeated teams. The Dolphins are off to a fast start, but the injury bug has hit this team in a major way.

The status of defensive starters Cameron Wake (knee), Paul Soliai (knee), Dimitri Patterson (groin) and Koa Misi (shoulder) are all in question. There is a good chance most of this aforementioned group will not be ready for Monday’s game.

This opens the door for Miami’s backups. Reserve players like Dion Jordan, Derrick Shelby, Randy Starks, Nolan Carroll and Jason Trusnik could have bigger roles against New Orleans’ high-powered offense. Can the Dolphins keep up the same level of production?

“I honestly can tell you that the whole philosophy is that you never worry about the players that aren’t there,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said Monday. “It’s the ones that are there, the ones that are going to play in the game and try and get them in the right spots so you have an opportunity to win the game. I was really pleased with the fact that there were a number of guys that had to step up.”

Miami’s defense didn’t play well in last Sunday’s 27-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons, but the group survived. In particular, the run defense and tackling wasn’t very good.

Injuries are going to take place over the course of a 16-game season. The Dolphins just didn’t know when and where they would happen. How Miami’s backups respond over the next game or two will say a lot about the Dolphins.