Trimmer Dansby Back Up to Speed

The Dolphins' defense didn't have much bite the first half of the season, and it appeared Karlos Dansby's appetite had a lot to do with the unit's early struggles. Dansby is the inside linebacker around whom defensive coordinator Mike Nolan built his 3-4 scheme.

The eight-year veteran, who signed a five-year, $43 million deal ($22 million guaranteed) last year, thought he was maintaining a proper diet during the offseason, which featured an NFL lockout. But by the time the NFL's doors were open, Dansby weighed 270 pounds, he recently admitted.

It took him nearly three months to trim down to 246 pounds, which was the weight he played at when he delivered a 10-tackle, one-sack and one-interception performance in Sunday's 20-9 win over the Redskins.

"I was eating salads and certain dressings," said Dansby, who has contributed 62 tackles, two sacks and one interception in his nine games. "I thought I was eating good."

Dansby also strained his groin in a Sept. 18 loss to the Texans, which limited his ability to run full speed. As a result, Kevin Burnett was being used in the nickel and dime packages as the linebacker covering tight ends and tailbacks while Dansby came off the field.

Now it appears the Dolphins' two inside linebackers are splitting those duties, which makes the scheme a bit more complicated to diagnose.

In his first five games, Dansby contributed 21 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. In his past four, he's registered 40 tackles, a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and two passes defensed.

"You knew some of the guys were heavier than they had been. Some of them were lighter than they had been," Coach Tony Sparano said. "Nobody knows what they were doing. I couldn't tell you if it was from eating salads. ... I just don't know. You can't put your finger on what they were doing, as far as what they considered getting ready to play football and what we would consider here.

"I realize that a lot of players think the offseason program is too long, and in some cases maybe it was too long. But it's a necessary evil to get yourself ready to play the season. That is something I'm sure, this coming offseason, players around the league will probably appreciate it a little bit more."

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