Miami Dolphins have been dealt a huge blow after it was announced that starting linebacker Dannell Ellerbe will sit out the rest of the season because of a hip injury.
According to reports, the former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl winning linebacker will need surgery on the hip problem, with the injury acting as a severe blow to the Dolphins who hope to challenge for the AFC East title this season.
New England Patriots have had a hold on the AFC East crown for the last decade, but a 33-20 opening day win over the Patriots had given Dolphins fans hope that it could be their year.
Playing down injury
Despite the injury, Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle played down the significance of the injury.
"Well, Dannell's a heck of a player, and we were excited about the prospects of him moving back to the [outside linebacker] position and playing as effectively as he could," Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "But that's part of the game, and we move on. Like every team in the league does when you have injuries, you have to have people step up and fill in."
The truth hurts
But Coyle's words hide the fact this particular injury could have quite severe ramifications for the Dolphins. Because the injury is in a critical position of the Dolphins roster, it could prove fatal for Miami's chance during the 2014 NFL season.
Miami need to be especially strong on defense this season because they are facing high powered offenses such as the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. To win those games they needed Ellerbe's talents, without him, this writer feels they will crumble.
Ellerbe is one of the highest paid members of the Dolphins roster for a good reason, because he's one of their most talented players. Ellerbe brings the experience of winning a Super Bowl too, having lifted the Lombardi Trophy during his time in Baltimore. Losing that kind of leadership on defense has been fatal for teams in the past, and the Dolphins could well face a similar fate this year.
The reason why the ramifications of Ellerbe's injury could be so bad is because of the multiple problems that Miami are currently facing at the linebacker position.
Starting middle linebacker Koa Misi's recently suffered an ankle injury, which leaves his status in doubt going into week two of the NFL season.
Add Philip Wheeler's thumb injury to the equation, and things on the defensive side of the ball could be about to get chaotic for the Dolphins.
Now they have signed linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to fill the spot of Ellerbe on the roster, but fourth-year player doesn't compare in any way to the Super Bowl winner.
It is safe to say that the Dolphins week one jubilation has been followed by a mid-week bombshell. And it will be interesting to see if they can cope with Ellerbe's injury the rest of the way.