Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 5/23/13
DAVIE, Fla. It would be a stretch to claim the Miami Dolphins now sport a New-Name Defense. After all, veterans Cameron Wake and Randy Starks headline a returning frontline. Linebacker Koa Misi and safeties Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones also remain in the 4-3 defense. The unit finished 21st overall in the league in 2012. It was 13th against the run, but 27th against the pass a ranking that doesnt cut it in todays game. Changes were made during free agency and via the draft. This weeks Organized Team Activities gave the Dolphins coaches a chance to see the 2013 team on the field as a group for the first time. Several other OTAs will be held before training camp starts in July. Defensive end Dion Jordan, this years first-round draft pick, and cornerback Jamar Taylor, the second rounder, did not attend the OTA. Jordan remained at Oregon, where school was in session. His eventual presence might be why DE Jason Odrick saw time at tackle this week. Taylor reportedly was recovering from recent hernia surgery. Starks also was missing. The tackle reportedly is unhappy the team placed the franchise tag on him. Hed rather work out a long-term deal. Although Joe Philbin refused to comment on absent players, the Dolphins head coach had enough defensive topics to discuss. Free-agent linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler were signed to replace departed vets Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby. Ellerbe will be the Mike (middle linebacker), which will be a bit of a change from his four years with the Baltimore Ravens. Its a totally different defense because its a 4-3 here and a 3-4 there, Ellerbe said. But for the most part, I played this in college (Georgia), so I should be alright. Philbin said he liked what he had seen of Ellerbe so far. He's a bright guy. He's very business-like in the building, Philbin said. He comes in, gets his work done, and (hes) very, very attentive. Youve got to be strong down the middle, offensively and defensively, and he's a guy that were looking for to help coordinate that front seven. We like what weve seen thus far. In the secondary, Jones arrived at the OTA a day late. According to the Miami Herald, he showed up after the Dolphins assured him and his agent the team eventually would talk about a contract extension. Jones didnt want to discuss his contract status. He did say facing the Dolphins revamped receiving corps daily in practice would help the defensive backs. Those guys are explosive and make plays, Jones said. Thats only going to help us be able to tighten up against the likes for Sunday. Free-agent signee Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall worked at cornerback on the day media was allowed to watch OTA. Taylor, Dimitri Patterson, Nolan Carroll and Will Davis also are expected to compete for playing time. Real wide open, Philbin said when asked to describe the CB competition. Very, very wide open at this stage Grimes (Achilles tendon) and Marshall (back) are returning from injuries last season. They feel good physically and Im excited about watching the tape and sitting down and looking at it, Philbin said. I thought they moved around well. I think theyve been moving around well the last couple of weeks, so were anxious that they participate fully in these practices. Listening to Philbin, one got the impression he likes his teams make-up in his second year as coach. We told the guys, this program is built under the assumption that the players want to be great players No. 1, and they want to contribute to our success No. 2, Philbin said. Thats the starting point. So if we dont have guys that feel like that, then they are probably in the wrong building and if we dont have coaches that love going out there, we probably have the wrong guys. Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas
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