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Coyle: Defense has 'chance to do something special'

The Dolphins offense has a new coordinator, a new scheme, a new offensive line. It's a great day when there isn't a botched snap in practice -- and so far there has not been a practice day when there hasn't been at least one botched snap.

So with the division rival New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills the first two teams on regular-season schedule one might hope the Dolphins' defense can carry the day while the offense gets acclimated to 2014.

And that's fine because the defense apparently is ready for that assignment.

"We like the challenge," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said Wednesday. "We like the challenge of having a veteran group of guys who feel they can be among the league's top defenses. And if we execute we feel we can do that."

While the Miami offense is experimenting and shuffling players -- On Wednesday Nate Garner moved to starting center for part of practice, Dallas Thomas worked some at tackle and Billy Turner took first-team snaps at right guard -- the defense seems relatively set.

The starting unit in most every practice so far:

LE: Cameron Wake

DT: Earl Mitchell

DT: Randy Starks

RE: Olivier Vernon

WLB: Dannell Ellerbe

MLB: Koa Misi

SLB: Phillip Wheeler

CB: Cortland Finnegan

CB: Brent Grimes

S: Louis Delmas

S: Reshad Jones

Even Jimmy Wilson, who is competing at safety, is seemingly set as the starting nickel back.

A competition may develop at safety (Wilson/Delmas) or DT (Jared Odrick/Mitchell) or perhaps at CB (Jamar Taylor/Cortland Finnegan), but the above seems to be the group right now.

This group is building their core scheme that "we believe in," Coyle said, and trying to use players' strengths within the scheme.

"The core of what we do is in place," Coyle said.

So this group is simply refining rather than their offensive teammates who are defining.

And it shows on the field. Today, for example the last two plays of the team team period in practice, Cameron Wake had a sack and that was followed by a Cortland Finnegan interception.

"My instincts tell me the defense had the upper hand," coach Joe Philbin said of the entire practice in which the two-minute offense and defense was stressed.

As it should be. This defense should dominate the offense, particularly at this stage in training camp. But for that dominance to carry into the regular-season against opposing teams, Coyle realizes some things have to improve.

"Being more consistent in the run game and turnover issues," Coyle said. "If we can do that, we'll put ourselves in position to be difficult to move the ball against.

"If we keep building it, we have a chance to do something special."