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ALLEN PARK, Mich. (CBSMiami/AP) — The Miami Dolphins defense has established itself as one of the premier units in the NFL.

The Dolphins secondary has evolved into an elite group of playmakers that has shut down their opponent’s passing game week after week.

That group will have another tall order on Sunday when they face Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

Johnson is expected to return this week as the Lions enter a critical stretch of the season.

The star wide receiver has missed the past three games with an ankle injury.

Johnson said Wednesday he is back to his normal practice routine and will play Sunday when Detroit (6-2) hosts the Dolphins (5-3) at Ford Field.

Detroit has gone 3-0 in his absence and holds a one-game lead over Green Bay (5-3) in the NFC North as it prepares for three straight games against teams with winning records.

Miami’s secondary of Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan, Reshad Jones and Louis Delmas have become one of the top collections of defensive backs in the league.  In recent weeks they’ve put together solid efforts against great passing teams like Green Bay, Chicago and San Diego.

Delmas will be playing in his first game back in Detroit after signing with the Dolphins during the offseason.  The Lions drafted Delmas, a Miami native, in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

He played the first five years of his career in Detroit before returning to his hometown Dolphins on a one-year contract.  He hopes that a solid year with Miami will earn him a multi-year deal, similar to what the team did with Brent Grimes last season.

Grimes missed all of the 2012 season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, which was the final year of his contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

The Dolphins signed Grimes to a one-year ‘show me’ contract before the 2013 season.  Following a very successful year in which he was selected to the Pro Bowl, Miami offered him a four-year extension.

It appears that the Dolphins made a wise decision as Grimes leads the team with four interceptions, the second highest total in the league.  Only Cleveland’s Tashaun Gipson has more interceptions (6) than Grimes.

The Dolphins have won three straight games and four of their past five, with the lone loss coming on the last play of the game against the Packers in Week 6.

Miami is coming off of their biggest shutout win in almost two decades, blowing out the San Diego Chargers 37-0 last week in South Florida.

It will be a big game for both teams, and a good measuring stick as the Dolphins and Lions both boast two of the best defenses in the NFL.

Watch Miami take on the Detroit Lions this Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS4, your official Dolphins station! 

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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