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Thursday, March 13, 2014
Will 4-3 defense best suit Earl Mitchell?

By James Walker

DAVIE, Fla. -- New Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Earl Mitchell explained to the local media that Miami was his first choice. It turns out the thing Mitchell is most excited about is the opportunity to play in a 4-3 defense.

Mitchell didn’t get that opportunity with the Houston Texans. He was a 3-4 nose tackle whose job was to take on double-teams and hold his ground in the middle.

“I think it will definitely give me an opportunity to showcase my skill,” Mitchell said Wednesday during his introductory news conference. “It will definitely be a time where I can definitely just be able to make more plays.”

Part of that is collapsing the pocket and getting to the quarterback. Mitchell recorded just 1.5 sacks last season in a 3-4. He believes that number will improve with the Dolphins in 2014.

Mitchell will join a deep and talented group of defensive linemen that includes Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Dion Jordan, Randy Starks and Jared Odrick. Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle will have a lot of pieces to play with up front and should be more aggressive.

Miami general manager Dennis Hickey described Mitchell as “a young player that was on the rise and we felt like we had great things ahead of him.” Mitchell was not a player on the radar of many people when free agency began this week. But the Dolphins made him a first-day priority.

“I know a lot of guys don’t know about me,” Mitchell admitted. “But I originally played offense and once I moved over to defense it was definitely an adjustment period but I feel like I’ve gotten better and better and ever since I stepped into the position of playing defense.”