Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Duffner vows to get most out of Ellerbe, Wheeler


The Miami Dolphins got younger at linebacker last year in swapping out Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett for Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.

That doesn't mean they got better.

Miami hoped Ellerbe and Wheeler would be impact players in the pass rush while taking advantage of their speed in both getting to tackles against the run and dropping into coverage, but none of that materialized in 2013.

Both will likely be on the starting depth chart next season simply because the team owes the pair a total of $11 million guaranteed in 2014.

And now, it will be up to the Dolphins' new linebackers coach, Mark Duffner, to increase the pricey duo's production in the coming season. Duffner says he's up to the task.

"They’re talented players and it’ll be my job and to really find ways to allow that talent to get better and better, to develop that talent, to maximize their ability to be contributors with the Dolphins in particular on defense and at the linebacker position," Duffner said Monday, via

"They are young guys that I’m excited to have to chance to coach and to teach."

Duffner, who spent the last half-dozen years coaching the Jacksonville Jaguars linebackers, has some familiarity with defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, having worked with him on the Cincinnati Bengals' staff for two years, when Duffner served as the team's defensive coordinator.

Getting Ellerbe and Wheeler on track this offseason and into the 2014 campaign will certainly be near the top of Duffner and Coyle's to-do list.

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