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Ellerbe to injured reserve, Dolphins sign Sheppard

Dannell Ellerbe's hip injury was serious. That's the reason the team will place him on the injured reserve list, coach Joe Philbin announced today.

To replace Ellerbe, who will not be eligble to return this season, the team is signing free agent linebacker Kelvin Sheppard.

Sheppard played with the Indianapolis Colts in 2013 and Buffalo Bills in 2012.

“Well, Dannell is a heck of a player and we were excited about the prospects of him moving back to the Will position and playing as effectively as he could," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "But that’s part of the game and we move on and, like every team in the league does when you have injuries, you have to have people step up, fill in and we’ll do that and we’ll move forward."

The Dolphins now have to decide on a replacement for Ellerbe in the lineup as Sheppard may not be that immediately. The candidates are Jason Trusnik and Jelani Jenkins.

“I can’t say enough about those guys and the job that Coach (Mark) Duffner and Coach (David) Corrao did to get those guys ready," Coyle said. "Those guys stepped in. Trus (Jason Trusnik), he was out there calling the defense, he was playing on special teams, he did it all and did a great job. Jelani, you noticed him because they were trying to throw the ball to the tight end, they tried to pick him on the wheel route and get the back down the sideline. Jelani, not only did he cover but he made a really good adjustment getting over the top of a potential rub route. It’s a play that we work a lot when we get prepared to play these guys because they’re very effective with it, but he did a great job. Jonathan Freeny had some quality snaps as well, so it was great to see that. You’re going to have to have your backup players step up when the time comes and they certainly did that. I was really impressed with the entire group. The defensive line, the pass rush was relentless."

Although Chris McCain played well Sunday and made two impact plays -- a punt block and a sack of Tom Brady -- he is not ready to contribute completely on defense as more than a pass rusher. That is his current role on defense.

“He’s a work in progress," Coyl,e said of McCain. "He’s getting better every week. We’re preparing him to play. He prepared to play both defensive end and linebacker last week and he’ll do the same this week. It’s pretty amazing to be in your first NFL game as an undrafted free agent and first snap block a punt and then come on later on one of his first rushes in the game he gets a sack of Tom Brady. I think he’ll remember that game for a long time."

The Dolphins have two other injured linebackers in Koa Misi (ankle) and Philip Wheeler (thumb). Neither is dealing with a season-ending injury situation.