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Miami Dolphins defensive linemen learn to play catch thanks to coordinator Kevin Coyle

Preparation and serendipity led to Sunday’s third-quarter interception by Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks.

Most Fridays, according to defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, the defensive linemen run through a fumble recovery drill.

This time, defensive assistant coach Charlie Bullen prepared something different.

“Last week, we decided we were going to work on catching the ball because we were dropping the linemen [into coverage] in certain things that we were doing,” Coyle said. “Each position did a different ball-type drill. Plus, we sometimes try to change it up, so it doesn’t get monotonous for them. Charlie was whipping the ball at these D-linemen dropping on Friday. The balls are bouncing everywhere, but we joked about it because, sure enough, in the game, that ball was humming across the middle and Randy picks it off. He looks like Jerry Rice out there catching it.”

Getting better

The decrease in media and fan mentions of rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin during the past month indicate that Martin’s no longer standing out for the wrong reasons.

“He’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he is excellent with his hands, [and] he takes pretty good pass sets for the most part,” offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. “Those two [Cincinnati] ends that were rushing the quarterback the other day were great ends. They have great length, particularly [ Robert] Geathers, the guy he was playing against, has really good length. So, sometimes you have to give him a stab in the chest and power rush him a little bit. So, I think he’s exceeding our expectations.”

This and that

• Dolphins coach

Joe Philbin

said both conditioning and knowledge of the playbook kept wide receiver

Jabar Gaffney

— signed last week — off the active roster Sunday. Philbin didn’t rule out Gaffney playing this week, however.

• Sunday was defensive lineman

Tony McDaniel’s

first game after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. McDaniel, who can play both tackle and end, had two tackles and a fumble recovery.

“He was a factor in the game,” Coyle said. “He only played about 20 snaps in the game, but when he was in there, his presence was felt. He had a couple of tackles, some great pursuit on one of the screen plays, he ran it down. He recovered the fumble on the play down the field, just on sheer effort coming back.

“We can really build on that. I think we need him to have the best season he’s ever had and, based on the first exposure we’ve had for him this year, it’s very encouraging.”

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