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Secondary Becomes Primary Issue For Fins

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After the unexpected release of cornerback Richard Marshall for financial reasons, the Miami Dolphins turned to Dimitri Patterson to fill the starting cornerback position Marshall left void.

Patterson though can't get too comfortable. The veteran is also owed roughly $4.5 million in salary this year and if the Fins don't believe he's going to be worth that; he too will soon be headed to the unemployment line.

"There are a variety of issues when you are going to make a tough decision like that, and there is competition at every position. We've been studying the competition since the spring, and we felt as if it was the best interests in the team," Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said of the decision to release Marshall.

The secondary, primarily the cornerback position, has been a concern for Fins fans since the end of last season. The Dolphins traded away Vontae Davis last year, a former first-round pick, and let Sean Smith leave as a free agent for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Fins did add cornerback Brent Grimes, who if healthy, is a playmaking upgrade over Smith and Davis. But, Grimes is one year removed from tearing his Achilles tendon, which keeps his overall health in question.

The Fins also have fourth-year pro Nolan Carroll and rookies Will Davis and Jamar Taylor, though Taylor has struggled to stay healthy and may not provide much until later in the year.

Still, the coaches know they need more out of everybody in the defensive backfield.

"You've got to be ready to play. You need to show it and demonstrate it right now. I feel we have a number of players capable in the group," Coyle said. "We need to be more consistent across the board, and that's what we are looking for this week as we go get ready for this game against Tampa (Bay)."

The secondary will have to hold up in the tough AFC this year as Tom Brady looks to be in MVP form and a host of other quarterbacks will be lining up to take their shots. If the secondary gets burned easily, it will fall to the defensive line to collapse the pocket quickly to make up for the secondary's weakness.

But that strategy can only work for so long until the offense begins bringing in extra blockers to help alleviate the pressure. That once again puts the onus on the secondary and Coyle knows that there's plenty the players need to show in the coming weeks.

"I think we can be better than we were as we began the season last year," Coyle said, "but there is still work to be done."

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