The Miami Dolphins released linebacker Benardrick McKinney earlier this week, just months after acquiring him from the Houston Texans via trade. McKinney was mainly the starting inside linebacker alongside Jerome Baker in training camp until linebacker Elandon Roberts returned from the physically unable to perform list last week. McKinney’s release shows the confidence this coaching staff has in Roberts’ ability.

Roberts made an immediate impact in his return, taking McKinney’s spot instantly. Roberts became a fan-favorite towards the end of last season, and the five-year veteran can expect his role to expand more this year as one of this team’s starting inside linebackers. Similar to McKinney, Roberts excels at stopping the run. He plays very physical and often delivers a big hit whenever he makes contact. Last season, Roberts had a huge impact in short-yardage scenarios, ending many drives by opposing offenses, and he will need to do more of the same this year now that he is the starter. He will be backed up by preseason standout Sam Eguavoen.

Roberts joined the Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent in 2020 after playing four seasons with the New England Patriots. Last season, Roberts reordered 61 total tackles and 8 tackles for a loss before getting injured against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 16. Roberts suffered a significant knee injury and was sidelined the rest of the season and most of training camp before returning last week.

Next Sunday, the Dolphins face the New England Patriots in their regular-season opener, and Roberts will have a big role as one of Miami’s premier run stoppers.