The Dolphins haven’t done much winning against the Patriots in recent seasons. But one of the newest members of the team feels the AFC East’s dominant team for more than a decade is vulnerable after an offseason marked by the arrest of tight end Aaron Hernandez on murder charges, another injury setback to tight end Rob Gronkowski and the departure of prolific pass catcher Wes Welker via free agency.
Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe told CBSSports.com on Monday that it is up to the Dolphins to prove they can beat the Patriots, who have handled the Dolphins 10 of the 12 times they have played since 2007.
“I was brought here to help knock them off,” said Ellerbe, who signed a $35 million, five-year contract with Miami this offseason after helping the Ravens defeat the Patriots en route to winning the Super Bowl last season. “That doesn’t mean we will, but we feel like we can.”
The Patriots released Hernandez the same day he was arrested and charged with murder in the killing of Odin Lloyd, 27.
“Losing a starter always hurts and losing a starter as good as he was will really hurt,” Ellerbe told the website.
Hernandez and Gronkowksi comprised one of the best tight end combinations in NFL history the past three seasons, combining for 362 receptions, 4,619 yards and 56 touchdowns. In losing Welker to the Denver Broncos, New England loses a player who had six 100-reception seasons during his seven years playing with Tom Brady.