Miami Dolphins Week 1 Spotlight: Earl Mitchell


Offensively the spotlight is clearly on rookie right tackle Ja’Wuan James but defensively we are shifting our vision to the defensive line where free agent addition Earl Mitchell is taking over for last years starter Paul Soliai. Solia signed with the Atlanta Falcons after the Dolphins opted to not offer him an extension. Mitchell will now anchor the defensive front.

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Mitchell was drafted by the Houston Texans in the 2010 NFL Draft. The third round pick is entering his fifth season in the league and comes to Miami with a strong physical presence.

The teams new interior defensive lineman didn’t become a full time starter until last season when he started 14 of 16 game for the Texans. In his four seasons he has 3.5 sacks but last season registered 30 tackles and 18 assists in his first season on the first team unit. In the four pre-season games of which Mitchell played sparingly and not at all in week four, he registered five total tackles with four solo. That is a good indication of his ability to make tackles at the line of scrimmage or behind the line.

Last season Paul Soliai registered a total of 34 tackles with one sack. The question heading into the season and week one is whether Mitchell will be on the field more than Soliai was last season. The Dolphins like to rotate their defensive lineman throughout the game.

This week Mitchell will line up on the shoulders of center Ryan Wendell and right guard Dan Connelly. The Patriots are expected to balance their passing attack and rushing attack and use the speed of Stevan Ridley to the outside and Shane Vereen up the middles. Upfield push from Mitchell will help to move Brady out of the pocket or collapse the running lanes for Vereen. Mitchell will play a pivotal part in this game and a solid effort will make Miami fans forget about the loss of Soliai this past March.