New Linebackers Meshing Well Together

Posted Jul 27, 2013

Ellerbe, Wheeler share similar skill set.

Taking a glance at the Miami Dolphins defense from above, it’s hard to differentiate between their two new linebackers – Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe. They are similar in stature and both are sporting long dreadlocks underneath their helmets, plus their styles and speed mirror each other.

The fact that the two signed with Miami on the same day back in March and both wear numbers in the 50s, in addition to the other notable factors, has not been lost on either one of them. In fact, they see that as a positive in terms of how they are going to perform on the field.

I think we’re developing a real good chemistry,” said Wheeler, who spent last season with the Oakland Raiders. “I like the way he plays, he likes the way I play and I think we play alike. We play fast, not hesitating on things and just quick reactions. I think we’re very quick and explosive and that’s what we try to be.”

Wheeler’s best season happened to be with Oakland in 2012, as he racked up 110 tackles (78 solo) and three sacks with six passes defensed and showed off those ball instincts this morning on the second play of the first 11-on-11 session. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was trying to connect with speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace over the middle when Wheeler left his feet and batted the ball up in the air, nearly coming down with it for an interception.

For Ellerbe, he’s coming off a Super Bowl championship with the Baltimore Ravens and his 89 tackles (66 solo) and 4.5 sacks were integral to the team’s success. He led the Ravens with nine tackles in the 34-31 win over San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII and is equally excited about lining up next to Wheeler.

“He played at Georgia Tech and I played at Georgia, so I’ve seen a lot of him in college,” Ellerbe said. “I’ve seen him throughout my years in the league, we played him when he was in Indianapolis and when he was with the Raiders, so I know the type of player that he is and he’s going to give 110 percent. That’s all we ask for.”

As far as any lingering animosity about the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry, Ellerbe claimed there are none because Wheeler “knows he never beat us, so we’re all right.” Wheeler took a similar high road when asked about that dynamic but was sure to get in the last dig.

“When we come out here we put it behind us but he knows Georgie Tech’s going to beat Georgia this year,” he said. “He knows it, I know it and we’ll have some kind of friendly wager maybe. We’re teammates, he’s a good dude and I like to consider myself a good dude and we’re friends so it’s all good.”

Both linebackers are really excited about their roles in the defense being run by defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle because they get to move around a lot and utilize their different skills. Wheeler came off of the edge today on one pass rush and both have blitzed up the middle at times, so as they get more comfortable that will be more important.

“We are constantly communicating about new ways to run different blitzes,” said Ellerbe, who is in his fifth NFL season. “We are both learning, so we’re going to need each other to get through this thing.

Wheeler can see just how what they do on the field will confuse opposing offenses.

“It’s going to create confusion and that’s what we want to do against the offense,” he said. “We just want to make plays and I feel like he’s putting all of us in position depending on what the offense runs.”

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