DAVIE - The Miami Dolphins defense is apparently getting closer to being at full strength for Sunday's road game against the New England Patriots.
Starting inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who sat out last Sunday's 23-21 loss to Buffalo Bills because of a shoulder injury he suffered on Oct. 6, practiced for the second straight day on Wednesday.
The extent of Ellerbe's participation was likely limited, but considering the former Georgia standout sat out all of last week's practice, his participation hints he's getting closer to returning to the defense.
Last week the Dolphins got two starters - defensive end Cameron Wake and cornerback Dimitri Patterson - back from injuries. Both participated in a limited basis against the Bills.
The Dolphins haven't had every defensive starter on the field together since the season-opening win against the Cleveland Browns.
Ellerbe, whose 43 tackles has him ranked third on the team, was replaced by Jason Trusnik and Jelani Jenkins against the Bills.
Trusnik handled the base 4-3 work and contributed six tackles. Jenkins was paired with Philip Wheeler in the Dolphins' nickel package, and made three tackles.
Dolphins sign Nathan Palmer
The Dolphins signed Nathan Palmer to the practice squad, where the receiver replaces Brian Tyms, who was claimed by the Cleveland Browns.
Palmer, who played at Northern Illinois, played in five games for the Indianapolis Colts last season, catching one pass. The Colts poached Palmer from the 49ers practice squad in 2012.
Palmer played in 48 games (20 starts) for Northern Illinois and registered 93 receptions for 1,575 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also rushed for 200 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries.
He joins Ryan Spadola, a rookie from Lehigh, as the second receiver on the practice squad, which is responsible for getting the first-team defense ready each week.
Tyms got claimed by the Browns on Tuesday and Marvin McNutt was claimed by the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago.