“I knew coming in what the deal was,” Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan told Dolphins.com's Andy Kent of his rookie campaign in the NFL. “They wanted me to make sure that I was healthy first of all and that I was able to help out the team. So that’s what it was and they wanted to make sure that I was all right. I came in and I did as much as I could with my snaps so I can’t complain. If you’re out there you’re expected to be productive. The way a lot of our games went, teams were running the ball a lot and I don’t really think they wanted probably one of the lightest guys in the defensive line room playing all of those double teams and scoops. I’m a pass rusher.”
Jordan's first year in the league did not see the player Miami jumped from twelfth in last year's Draft to third set the world on fire. In fact, he spent most of the season on the sideline, watching, rather than on the field playing. Jordan payed just 338 defensive snaps this past season, along with contributing on special teams.
For a player the Dolphins aggressively attacked in the Draft to see the field so little frustrated fans. However, Jordan seems to understand his role, and that he has to use this offseason as a chance to get better.
“I’ve gained a lot of strides but I’ve got a lot to work do, obviously,” Jordan continued. “I’ve just got to keep my feet in the dirt and grind it out. I just have to gain the respect of my teammates and my coaches and eventually I’ll be able to get out there and show them what I can do. I could have made more plays when I was out there and I feel like that probably would have helped me out a lot more but this offseason I’ve got to get much better as a player in all aspects. It’s helped me a lot being in the room that I’ve been in these last four or five months and I’ve just got to develop as a player.”
Not only will Jordan now have an entire offseason at the NFL level to get ready for 2014 now, but he will also not be battling the shoulder injury that slowed him at the start of training camp, nor will he be kept from offseason workouts due to NFL rules preventing drafted players from joining their team until after their current academic term ends. Jordan was utilized in pass rush situations most of the season, tallying 26 tackles, two sacks, and two pass defenses. Ahead of him on the depth chart, Pro Bowler Cameron Wake recorded 8.5 sacks this year, while Olivier Vernon led the team with 11.5.
Jordan will be looking to have a similar second year improvement to Vernon, who as a rookie in 2012 had 23 tackles and 3.5 sacks in limited playing time. Vernon's 11.5 sacks this year was good enough for seventh in the league.
How much of an impact Jordan will have next season could be determined over the next few months. With added strength and an understanding of how to set the edge against the run, rather than simply being a pass rusher on each and every down, Jordan will see his playing time increase and the potential that led to his selection at number three overall be realized. Jordan seems to realize exactly how much work he has to do this offseason, which could mean 2014 will be a special year.
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