Friday, May 31, 2013

Ellerbe transitions to veteran status with Dolphins


In his four years with the Baltimore Ravens, Dannell Ellerbe had the luxury of learning the game from some of the league's most talented veteran linebackers.

Now, he gets to the chance to pass that wisdom along. (photo: Keith Allison, Flickr)

Ellerbe watched and waited in Baltimore behind Ray Lewis & Co. for three years before getting any extensive playing time, which came last season. He proved himself worthy, posting 92 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

He brings that schooling to a Miami Dolphins defense in transition mode and a linebacking corps that could use a leader, particularly after losing one this offseason. As far as Ellerbe's concerned, he's up for the challenge.

"It's been a great situation for me just coming in here and showing what I can do, showing that I grasp a hold of this defense," he told Kevin Nogle of The Phinsider Tuesday. "It has a lot of key components to it that I'm fairly familiar with, so it shouldn't be hard. I feel like be training camp I'll have everything down like I did in Baltimore."

The one thing Ellerbe may not be familiar with is being the one to show the young guys the ropes. He came from a 2012 Ravens squad that held an average age of nearly 29 among its linebackers. He's now one of the oldest members of a linebacking crew that averages only 23 years in age.

Ellerbe said that while this is the youngest defense he's ever been with, the squad's speed and aggressiveness is a product of its adolescence.

"It's just the fun we have on defense," he said. "How the guys attack the day, how hard they work out and how hard they train, and just showing that they want to win."

Ellerbe, along fellow newcomer Philip Wheeler, will look to combine their big-play ability with the D's newfound quickness in hopes of turning around a squad that was less than perfect last season. Despite finishing seventh overall in sacks, the 'Fins defense finished 27th in passing and 13th against the run.

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