The Miami Dolphins' 2015 season began this week when the team began the first part of the offseason workout program. Over the next two weeks, players can workout at the team facilities, doing strength and conditioning work. there can also be film study and meetings, though no on-field work may be done - that work can start aft the end of the two-week phase one.
The key word throughout the workout explanation, however, is "can." These workouts are all voluntary. The team can highly encourage all of their players to come in for the workouts, but they cannot compel them, and the player cannot be punished if they choose to not attend. Over the first years of the Joe Philbin era in Miami, the Dolphins' head coach has seen near perfect attendance at these workouts - maybe a player misses a couple of days for a personal reason, but most of the time, players for Miami get back to work. The one notable exception was safety Reshad Jones, who appeared set to hold out in 2013, but the team was able to get him back into the workouts, eventually coming to terms on a new contract that summer.
Which brings us to this year, when defensive end Dion Jordan is absent from the team's start to the workout program. Does it signal a problem for Jordan? Maybe not, but it definitely is a reason for concern.
Miami traded up to select Jordan with the third overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Since that selection, missed practice time due to NFL rules regarding academic terms, injuries, and suspensions have all led to Jordan seeing more time on special teams than on defense. It has led to questions about Jordan's fit in Miami's defense, his ability to stay healthy, and even what position he should play in the NFL. Miami used him as a linebacker later in the season last year, and they have appeared open to giving him that role more often in 2015, though the coaches still make a point of calling him a defensive end.
Jordan is entering his third season in the NFL. This is the year draft picks can truly be graded, and Jordan still has a lot to prove. It would make sense for him to be at the workouts, proving he is ready to break out this season, but instead, more questions begin to swirl on the former Oregon Ducks star.
To be absolutely fair, we do not know why Jordan is not at the team's training facilities. There could be a reason for his absence. He could be in contact with the coaches, and they could
know that there is a reason for Jordan to not be there. He could show up any day and end the speculation. We just do not know.
It is that not knowing that could be Jordan's biggest issue, though. There are portions of the Miami fan base ready to declare Jordan a bust and move on from him. There are likely coaches who are ready for the same, especially after last year's two-suspensions-for-drug-use escapade. That may be pure speculation, but with Jordan, that's all there is at this point, speculation.
Hopefully, this turns out to be a situation where Jordan had a personal issue he had to attend, and it couldn't be rescheduled, so he will report to the team sometime in the next few days. Until then, however, Jordan's absence rightfully raises concerns.