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2014 Training Camp Preview: Linebackers

Posted Jul 17, 2014

The one significant change at linebacker during the offseason program had Koa Misi moving from outside linebacker to the middle and switching places with Dannell Ellerbe.



After making major changes at linebacker last offseason, the Dolphins pretty much maintained the status quo this year with their core of Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler, Koa Misi, Jason Trusnik, Jonathan Freeny and 2013 fourth-round pick Jelani Jenkins.

The one addition of note was that of fifth-round pick Jordan Tripp, who heads a group of five rookie linebackers.

The one significant change at linebacker during the offseason program had Misi moving from outside linebacker to the middle and switching places with Ellerbe.

BREAKING DOWN DOLPHINS LINEBACKERS

RETURNING VETERANS

• Dannell Ellerbe (6-1, 246) — After coming over from the Baltimore Ravens as a free agent, Ellerbe reached the 100-tackle mark for the first time in his career and he also became the first Dolphins linebacker to record two interceptions in a season since 2008 (Akin Ayodele). Both of the picks came in victories, against Cincinnati and against the Jets at MetLife Stadium.

• Jonathan Freeny (6-2, 250) — In his two seasons with the Dolphins, Freeny established himself as a valuable special teams player. Freeny was second on the team last season with 10 tackles in the kicking game.

• Jelani Jenkins (6-0, 243) — The first of three Florida Gators selected by the Dolphins in the 2013 draft, Jenkins contributed on special teams all season and got more and more playing time as a backup on defense as the season progressed. Because of his speed and coverage ability, he could push for an even bigger role this season.

• Koa Misi (6-3, 257) — The longest-tenured member of the linebacking corps, Misi is heading into his fifth season with the Dolphins with a new role. The transition shouldn’t be a major problem for Misi, who already has shown his versatility since joining the team as a second-round pick in 2010. The Dolphins hope that Misi can help make a difference in the middle of the defense.

• Jason Trusnik (6-4, 252) — Entering his fourth season with Miami, Trusnik remains a valuable contributor, both with his work on special teams and his ability to back up just about anywhere at linebacker. Trusnik has started two games each of the last two seasons.

• Philip Wheeler (6-2, 240) — In his first season in Miami after coming over from the Oakland Raiders, Wheeler led the Dolphins with a career-high 118 tackles and he also teamed with Randy Starks on the game-clinching sack of Andrew Luck in the Week 2 victory at Indianapolis.

ROOKIES OR FIRST-YEAR PLAYERS

Tariq Edwards (6-2, 235) — Signed as a rookie free agent in May, Edwards was second on the Virginia Tech defense last year with 74 tackles.

Derrell Johnson (6-2, 257) — Another rookie free agent signed in May, Johnson started his last 49 games at East Carolina and recorded 15 sacks over the past two seasons, both of which ended with him earning second-team All-Conference USA honors.

• Chris McCain (6-5, 224) — A four-star recruit out of high school, McCain earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention recognition in 2012 when he tied for the team lead with 8.5 sacks. The Dolphins signed him nine days after the conclusion of the 2014 draft.

• Jordan Tripp (6-3, 234) — Tripp played outside linebacker at Montana when he earned Football Championship Subdivision All-American honors in 2013, but he also has the ability to play inside. Tripp, whose father and grandfather also played at Montana, showed at the Senior Bowl he could compete against elite competition. As a bonus, Tripp not only is a good prospect at linebacker, he’s also got a lot of long-snapping experience.

Andrew Wilson (6-3, 239) — Wilson was the leading tackler the past three seasons on a Missouri defense that featured second-round pick Kony Ealy and SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam. In his last college game, the hard-nosed Wilson passed his father, Ray, for 10th place on the school’s all-time tackles list.

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