Author Topic: Dolphins' pass defense taking first steps on road to recovery  (Read 300 times)

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Dolphins' pass defense taking first steps on road to recovery

They haven't been ranked higher than 25th last two years but could now be stocked with talent

By Chris Perkins, Sun Sentinel

2:18 PM EDT, May 20, 2013

The Dolphins' defensive backs know the regular-season schedule.

They know beginning in Week Two they have four consecutive games against some of the NFL's best quarterbacks Indianapolis' Andrew Luck, Atlanta's Matt Ryan, New Orleans' Drew Brees and Baltimore's Joe Flacco.

They also know they need to find two starting cornerbacks, a starting nickel (fifth defensive back) and dime (sixth defensive back) to join incumbent safeties Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons on the NFL's 27th-ranked pass defense in 2012.

The search begins Tuesday when the Dolphins open their three-day OTA (Organized Team Activities).

"We've got a great run-stopping defense with our defensive line," said safety Jimmy Wilson, who figures to contend for the nickel and dime jobs. "We've just got to step it up a little bit more in the secondary."

The Dolphins have big questions at cornerback but they also have big hopes because in the best case scenario they could find themselves stocked with talent.

Richard Marshall, Brent Grimes and Dimitri Patterson, who had injury-shortened seasons a year ago, are healthy. And Nolan Carroll, who started 10 games, is back along with R.J. Stanford, who got meaningful playing time.

The Dolphins drafted two cornerbacks second-round pick Jamar Taylor and third-round pick Will Davis fairly high so they should also contend for playing time.

Behind them are three longshots among returnees Julian Posey and De'Andre Presley and sixth-round pick Don Jones.

Marshall, a starter for the first four games until a back injury sidelined him for the rest of the season, has been cleared medically for full participation. It's been a long road back for Marshall, who at one time lost 30 pounds.

"I was in so much pain I wasn't eating," said Marshall, who had 17 tackles, five pass deflections and one interception last season. "I couldn't walk. I was on crutches. My left leg got smaller that my right leg because of the nerve damage in my back."

Grimes, signed from Atlanta, missed the final 15 games after tearing his Achilles tendon in the opener last September. He's been participating in the off-season program and expects to be ready for the regular season.

"It's a six- to nine-month recovery," said Grimes, who had six interceptions in 2009 and five in 2010, "so there you go."

Almost every player under contract will be in shorts and T-shirts for these non-contact OTA workouts.

Rookie defensive end Dion Jordan, the first-round pick from Oregon, won't attend because NFL rules prohibit rookies from participating in workouts until their academic year concludes. Oregon ends next month. Jordan wouldn't have participated anyway because he's recovering from shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.

Rookie left tackle Dallas Thomas, the third-round pick from Tennessee, won't participate because he's also recovering from shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.

But all the defensive backs, and specifically the cornerbacks, are healthy for the first time in months. The time they spend together now honing their craft could help a pass defense that hasn't ranked higher than 25th in the last two seasons.

"You know you're going to get beat sometimes," Jones said. "You know you're going to win a couple of battles. But it always comes down to the DBs. I think we'll be ready for the challenge.",0,5592355.story
Keep up the good work Matt Moore!

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