First, this officially feels good. We don't have to talk about bubble players, training camp practices, or the 85th player on the roster going up against an opponent's 78th player. No, we are officially shifting into regular season mode. It's time to start talking about games that actually count in the win and loss columns. It's actually time to enter the NFL season.
This week, the Miami Dolphins open on the road against the Cleveland Browns. The team has a few injury concerns, mostly rookie cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, along with watching the rehab of John Jerry, who will likely start at right guard on Sunday if he is healthy. There's one more player that all Dolphins fans are worried about, but apparently should not be.
Throughout the second half of the preseason, the Dolphins coaching staff held third overall pick Dion Jordan out of practices and the preseason games. Did the team rush Jordan back from the rehab of his surgically prepared shoulder? Or, was it a precautionary thing, just to make sure it was ready for the season opener? Whatever the case, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle did not seemed worried about the prized draft pick being ready after Monday's practice.
"Today he got a good number of reps in practice today, so we are excited about that," Coyle said during his press availability. "At the end of the week, we'll really feel better to judge exactly where he's at, but he's going to have a significant role in the gameplan this week, I can guarantee you that."
Of course, that could just be coach speak to make sure the the Browns have to plan on facing the defensive end, but added to head coach Joe Philbin's comment last week that we would "see a lot of him in the next couple of weeks," and things seem headed in the right direction for Jordan.
Jordan took part in the practice on Monday, including special teams work on kickoff coverage. Jordan seems set to fill the role Olivier Vernon had last year. Vernon, set to be the starting right defensive end for the Dolphins, was primarily a third down pass rusher and special teams player last year.
The Dolphins will return to practice today, despite Tuesday traditionally being the off day around the NFL. The team will take Thursday off instead, and head coach Joe Philbin said that he is considering making that the normal routine for the players this year.