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NOTEBOOK: Familiar Surroundings For Wheeler; Other Notes

Posted Sep 11, 2013

Defensive stalwart began his career in Indianapolis with the Colts.



One week ago it was Miami Dolphins cornerback Dimitri Patterson and linebacker Jason Trusnik returning to the stadium they once played in at the Cleveland Browns, but on Sunday linebacker Philip Wheeler is returning to the stadium he helped open.

This won’t be the first time Wheeler has dressed in the visitors locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium, but the memories are just as strong and his incentive to beat his former team is even stronger. The former Georgia Tech standout was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round (93rd) overall of the 2008 NFL Draft and spent his first four seasons with them before signing last year with the Oakland Raiders.

“It’s definitely going to be a little emotional. I actually opened up that stadium,” said Wheeler, who had a breakout season in 2012 with Oakland with 110 tackles (78 solo) and three sacks. I played the first game in it, it was a preseason game when it was first opened and I actually started that game. It’s kind of like partly my stadium since I opened it. No disrespect to the team or anything but I feel like I’m part of that stadium.”

Wheeler’s teammates understand what this game means to him, and the fact that Miami wants revenge for last year’s 23-20 loss at Indianapolis only adds to the edge the defense and the entire team will be taking the field with on Sunday.

“When you have something like that, something that means a lot to him, we’re going to try to get him that win, too,” fellow linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. “We’re going to put a little bit more in it because we want to see him successful also as a teammate, because we know guys that come from other places, they definitely want those wins especially and the same thing goes for the coaches.”

There is no doubt that Wheeler will control emotions having in been in this league for five years and now in his sixth season. Patterson approached last week’s game no different than any other, but Wheeler isn’t exactly going that far.

“Yeah, I want to come out of there with a ‘W’, but to me it’s also just the next game that as Dolphins we have to win,” he said. “I feel like it’s going to be special to me to play where I started at and it’s going to be fun. There are a few guys that I still talk to there and a few guys that I know and those are some good guys over there and they’re good players and they’re always going to have a good team.”

MARTIN, LUCK CUT OFF COMMUNICATION THIS WEEK

When you protect a quarterback’s blind side for four years there is a mutual trust and admiration that develops and that’s precisely what happened by Dolphins left tackle Jonathan Martin and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck at Stanford. They remain close friends.

Last year when these two teams met up in Indianapolis, both players were wide-eyed rookies and after the game they caught up with each other on the field. They talk to each other on the phone often, at least every other week according to Luck, but this week is different.

“We’ll probably save that until after the game,” Martin said. “I think it’s a little more competitive the older you get and now we have a year under our belts. So really for me I’m just focused on coming away from this road trip with a win and I can talk to Andrew anytime after that.”

Luck certainly understands the borders that have to be put up between friends when their teams are playing against each other.

“I think we’ll give each other our space,” Luck said. “I’m fortunate to have Jon as a good friend and we get along very, very well. We had a great time at Stanford together and we try to work out in the offseason together if we can, but we’ll give each other the space this week. … I count him as a good friend and always wish him the best – unless we’re playing each other.”

PATTERSON RETURNS TO PRACTICE

One positive trend that has been noticeable this week is the improving health of Miami’s banged up players from last week. Patterson, who was questionable for the Browns game with an ankle injury but picked off two passes, left the game in the second half with a groin injury and did not return. He also didn’t practice Tuesday, but he was back out there this afternoon with his pads on, joining rookie cornerback Will Davis, who returned to practice Tuesday from a toe injury.

PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC

There was enough time during the team-stretching period for three songs to be played inside the bubble. B.o.B. featuring 2 Chainz led things off with “HeadBand,” followed by “Titanium,” by David Guetta featuring Sia. Closing things out was Meek Mill featuring Sam Sneak and 2 Chainz with “Freak Show.”

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