By BARRY JACKSONbjackson@MiamiHerald.com
A Dolphins six-pack:
When the Dolphins selected defensive ends Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford 32nd and 66th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft, they hoped each would be long-term above-average starters. Langford has become a solid contributor, and the Dolphins hope he will make the jump to very good.
But Merling hasn't risen beyond a backup, and now first-round pick Jared Odrick is trying to keep him one. After his dismissal, former defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni put it simply: ``Merling has got to become more consistent.''
Merling, with the first team opposite Langford in practice last week, agreed. ``This is a big year for me,'' he said. ``I was not pleased with last year, not even a little bit. I feel like I'm a rookie this year, trying to prove myself. It's time for me to start contributing like coaches want me to. My coaches and teammates want me to get better, and I don't want to let them down.'' Merling said Odrick's arrival is pushing him: ``He's smart, quick, and he's going to be a great player.''
The Dolphins believe Merling can become a good pass rusher, but more is needed. Merling -- whose 376 snaps last year were 205 fewer than Langford's -- had 2 ½ sacks in 2009, after just one as a rookie, and just six quarterback pressures.
ESPN's K.C. Joyner, who studies every NFL play, said Merling was at the point of attack on 59 running plays in '09 and won only four. That 6.8 win percentage ``is unacceptable,'' Joyner said
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