Friday, October 4, 2013

In Miami, Ellerbe in 'better position' to be a leader


Without a doubt, money was a factor in linebacker Dannell Ellerbe's choice to sign with the Miami Dolphins this offseason over his former team and opponent this Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens.

But along with the lucrative contract, the chance to play without the burden of following the legendary Ray Lewis enticed Ellerbe to take Miami's offer.

“I would always be in the shadow there,” Ellerbe said, according to the Ravens' official website. “This is a better position for me to come down here and make a name for myself, to be able to be one of the top leaders on this defense."

This season marks Ellerbe's first year as a middle linebacker in a 4-3 defensive scheme, but he says his biggest adjustment was leaving an environment flush in strong leadership for one where he's one of the veterans everyone looks to.

“There’s a lot of pressure that comes with it because you try your best to help your team succeed and you put the team on your shoulders," Ellerbe said. “It’s just a different feeling right now than I used to have. You’re the guy now that everybody looks up to [to] make a play or the guy that they look up to [to] give a speech or get the guys up."

Ellerbe is the Dolphins' leading tackler, but has otherwise had an unproductive start to his career in South Florida. He's failed to register a sack, interception or forced fumble through four games, drawing some early doubts that he's the linebacker the franchise thought it locked up with a five-year, $35 million free agent deal.

But after scouting his former linebacker for the first time as an opponent, Ravens head coach Jim Harbaugh is preparing to face an improved version of the player who was instrumental to Baltimore's Super Bowl run in 2012.

“We see all the things [on tape] that he ever meant to us here and even better,” Ravens head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “It seems like he’s taken his game to even a higher level. Sideline to sideline, he makes plays on runs, he’s good in pass coverage. He’s a complete linebacker right now.”

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