Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle expects a booming return on the Miami Dolphins’ big offseason investment.
Coyle told reporters Wednesday that he believes the Dolphins’ defense will be “significantly” better than a year ago, pointing to the personnel upgrades at all three levels.
The pass-rush should be improved with the addition of Dion Jordan through the draft, he said. Brent Grimes was signed to help shore up the back end. And the linebacker position has gone through wholesale changes, with Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler signing rich contracts early in free agency.
“There were a number of things we did well last year, but there’s a number of areas, particularly the big plays in the passing game and the turnovers, the takeaways, that we were not close to achieving what we want,” Coyle said.
“Going into this year, I believe if we can maintain some areas that we were very, very good in a year ago, and then take a few steps forward ... I believe we’re going to do a much better job in the turnovers.”
He has been impressed with what he has seen so far. This spring, Coyle has noticed an improved understanding – and execution – in how head coach Joe Philbin wants things done.
That includes both returning players and new. Coyle said the Dolphins were lucky to nab both Ellerbe and Wheeler, who will replace Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett in the starting lineup.
“Honestly, we never thought we would be able to get both here and we did,” he added. “I think our ability to make plays at that position certainly will be advanced coming this fall.”
As for the defensive line, the Dolphins on Wednesday increased Randy Starks’ workload, granting him reps in team drills after limiting his exposure Tuesday.
However, his starting job wasn’t simply handed back to him. Jared Odrick, a defensive end his first three seasons as a pro, continued working at defensive tackle with the first team.
“He’s certainly showing us that he can not only play the position, but be very good at the position in the league,” Coyle said. “One thing that I think is exciting about this whole group is the versatility that we have.
“You can move an Odrick to a three technique, you can move him back outside to a five technique, with the role that we will have with our outside defensive ends, with guys that can interchange and play different spots.”
• Kicker Caleb Sturgis had an up-and-down day in his competition with Dan Carpenter during Wednesday’s mini-camp. He drilled a 47-yarder that was so strong, he hit the lift behind the goal post used to videotape practice. Sturgis did have two misses, however.
• Ryan Tannehill threw two interceptions in two-minute drills. Grimes had the first (while covering Mike Wallace); De’Andre Presley had the other.
• Tight end Dustin Keller sat out all of Wednesday’s practice with an undisclosed injury. But he did work up a sweat. Keller spent part of the two-and-a-half-hour session repeatedly slamming a sledgehammer off a tire.
• Dan Marino and Dolphins CEO Mike Dee were among those on-hand for Tuesday’s practice.