Written by Steven Wilson at 9:30 PM EST | Twitter: @stevenjwilson11
Ranked the fifth-best tackler from his outside linebacker position by Pro Football Focus, second-year standout Jelani Jenkins has led a resurgent Miami LB corps this season. Jenkins, filling the void left by Dannell Ellerbe’s season-ending injury, has been dominant in the run game (ranked 3rd by PFF) and solid against the pass with a 5th-best ranking currently.
“The more he’s had opportunities, it seems like he’s capitalized on those,” said Head Coach Joe Philbin. “He’s a very bright guy. He’s a pretty good communicator out there and I think he’s getting more and more confident as a football player with the more experience that he gains each and every week. Certainly, we like the way he’s trending as a football player. As you mentioned, he’s earned everything he’s gotten so far.”
After Dannell Ellerbe badly injured his hip in the season opener, Jenkins has picked up the slack with a team-high 47 combined tackles, while adding 1.5 sacks.
“He’s productive,” continued Philbin. “When you are a linebacker, you want those guys involved in tackling and defending the run. He’s also got good athletic skill in pass defensive. He has good instinct and awareness. He has a chance to be good. He’s doing some good things.”
Jenkins play has been one bright spot, but the team has also seen inspiring play from Koa Misi, who returned from injury two weeks ago versus Green Bay. No. 55 has tallied 14 tackles since his return, but missed practice on Thursday with a sore ankle.
Misi has the daunting task of living up to legendary players at the middle linebacker spot for the Dolphins, most recently Zach Thomas. The fifth-year pro, with his inspired play and leadership, has given his coach confidence
“He looks like a football player to me,” said Philbin. “When it’s all said and done, the guy plays fast. He’s tough. I think I’ve told you guys before, when we do our cut ups at the end of the year for the fundamentals and everything, Misi is on a lot of those cut ups. Omar (Kelly) asked me a couple of weeks ago, what do you want the defense to stand for? Pursuit and tackling and creating turnovers and getting off of blocks, and a lot of those pictures show Koa Misi. I think he’s a good football player. We’ll see – he has to earn it. I think he’s making progress.”
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