Ellerbe And Wheeler Fired Up To Face Former Teams

Posted Apr 19, 2013

Two newest additions circle their calendars for Ravens and Colts.

Roster makeovers have become the norm in today’s NFL, which is why each year the television networks find themselves with compelling matchups pitting players against their former teams.

This year, more than any other in recent memory, the Miami Dolphins will be able to contribute to a lot of those storylines thanks to their free agency haul. Almost half of the 16 regular-season games on the schedule (7) fit the bill, with tight end Dustin Keller getting two shots at the team he spent his first five seasons with – the New York Jets – on December 1st at MetLife Stadium and December 29th in at Sun Life Stadium for the regular-season finale).

But for linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, September 15th and October 6th will bring an added element of motivation to them. Wheeler spent his first four years with the Indianapolis Colts before signing with the Oakland Raiders last year and actually took the field for the first game ever played at Lucas Oil Stadium (a preseason game against Cincinnati), so he can’t wait for that trip to Indianapolis in Week 2 on September 15th.

“It’s going to be cool to play at Lucas Oil again and hopefully the fans remember me,” Wheeler said. “I don’t know if they will but I hope they don’t boo me. It’s still going to be cool to play in the stadium where I first started off at and there are still some guys there that I played with. It’ll be emotional, but I’m pretty cool with some of those guys still.”

Ellerbe was being groomed as the successor to future Hall-of-Fame middle linebacker Ray Lewis in Baltimore and is coming off of a memorable Super Bowl run with the Ravens. He had a big hand in that team’s postseason success, finishing Super Bowl XLVII as the team’s leading tackler with nine (six solo) in Baltimore’s 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans.

Fortunately for Ellerbe, the Ravens have to come to Sun Life Stadium this time around on October 6th, the week before the bye, so he won’t have to endure the awkwardness of gearing up in the visitors locker room of the place he used to call home. He will be looking across the sideline at the head coach he played for last year, John Harbaugh, and a lot of his former teammates, so that will make it a little different than any other game.

“I’m excited. It’s always good to play against competition like that,” said Ellerbe, who was an undrafted free agent out of Georgia in 2009. “It’s the team that I played for so it’s going to be even more of a special game for me. I’m looking forward to it and I’m still just going out there to win. There won’t be any bad blood or anything but it’s going to have a special place in my heart because I played there.”

When Miami travels to Pittsburgh on December 8th to face the Steelers at Heinz Field, wide receiver Mike Wallace will experience the same emotions. Cornerback Brent Grimes will be inspired when the Atlanta Falcons come to South Florida on September 22nd, as will defensive lineman Vaughn Martin on November 17th when the San Diego Chargers show up at Sun Life Stadium.

In other words, on all of those particular dates no bulletin board material will be necessary.

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