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Miami enjoyed a relatively strong run defense in 2012 (even if it did slack off as the season carried on), but its secondary was a much maligned unit. Anchored by the flighty Sean Smith, Miami's secondary was nothing short of atrocious.
Giving up nearly 250 yards per game and coming up with only 76 deflections and 10 interceptions, the Dolphins' secondary was in the bottom six of the NFL in 2012. The only bright spots were safeties Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones, the latter of whom went a long way towards solidifying himself as one of the best strong safeties in the NFL despite being relatively unknown.
It's good news both Clemons and Jones are returning, but how improved will the rest of Miami's reworked secondary be? Smith has been replaced by former Pro Bowler Brent Grimes who, despite coming off a year-long absence due to a torn Achilles tendon, appears not to have lost any of his athleticism.
Grimes is pretty much a lock to be the No. 1 corner in Miami, and depending on how he recovers from his injury, he could reclaim his status as a Pro Bowler, making him the best corner the Fins have had in years.
But who will fill in behind him? Richard Marshall, acquired prior to last season but sidelined all year due to back issues, looks to currently be the No. 2 man. But he'll have to fight off rookies Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.
The Dolphins hope these two rooks can be young cornerstones for the secondary. If Grimes performs well, he could be looking at a multi-year extension, solidifying the Dolphins' secondary for years. Marshall is a competent corner who could provide solid play from anywhere on the field.
That leaves Dimitri Patterson as the odd man out. Acquired off waivers late last season, Patterson is due $4.5 million this year. Considering his cheaper competition, the likelihood of Patterson making the team seems low.
As with many of Miami's other retooled positions, the secondary is overflowing with potential. We'll get our first glimpse of how much of that potential will translate to success on the field in training camp.