Merling's unexpected return brings depth to Dolphins' D-line

Posted Dec. 03, 2010 @ 10:35 a.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

The Dolphins might get some more depth along the defensive line from a familiar name at an unexpected time. DE Phillip Merling was activated from the non-football injury list and participated in practice leading up to Week 13. The former first-rounder had been out after sustaining an Achilles tendon tear before training camp away from Miami's facilities. But surprisingly, Merling progressed to the point where the team activated him. He is not in game shape yet, has put on weight and still has a limp, but claims he will play this season. Merling was the projected starter at right defensive end before his injury, and the door opened for rookie Jared Odrick. But an injury suffered in the opener cost Odrick his season, moving Randy Starks back to his normal DE position. His backup has been Tony McDaniel, who is having his most productive season. We hear that McDaniel wants to start somewhere and likely won't re-sign, meaning Merling's early return could give him a chance to impress the coaches so he can be a factor in next year's rotation.