The Miami Dolphins are on to the final day of minicamp, the final practice before the team breaks for the rest of June and most of July. The day will feature an 11-on-11 scrimmage set, giving the coaches one last chance to see how the system installs have worked prior to the break.
On Wednesday, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh met with the media, discussing his career, rookie defensive end Charles Harris, and head coach Adam Gase.
“I think at all times you look at it, and when you get to this age," Suh replied when asked about how long he feels he can continue too play. "I remember guys – Kyle Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams – being (in) their seventh and eighth year when I was a rookie going to Detroit. Seeing those guys and how they approached it, they really took it day by day and focused on what they needed to take care of in that particular moment and then worried about everything on (the) later back end. For me, personally, that’s kind of how my approach has been. Obviously, I want to continue to play at a very high level, so I’m in-tune with what I need to get done right now, and then let the years to come worry about themselves.”
He continued, turning toward the physical toll the game can take on a defensive tackle and whether he will be able to keep up his level of play. “I think I’m built for it, first and foremost; but I think at the end of the day, it’s about coaches and how they take care of us. ‘T’ (Defensive Line Coach Terrell Williams) does a great job – (Head Coach Adam) Gase does a great job – allowing us to get good, quality reps where we’re getting the work that we need to get in, but we’re not beating ourselves up, especially in these particular instances. Obviously, in camp is a great gauge of that as well. For me, I’m not really worried about it. I’ve always prided myself on playing as many plays as I can possible. I just love being on the football field.”
Suh was asked if he pictures himself among the all-time greats at the defensive tackle position. “I think I’ve always prided myself on wanting to be a guy that has been very similar to, obviously, the greats – Reggie White, Warren Sapp – guys of that caliber (that) change the game from their particular position, he explained. "I’m only eight years into the league. They played many, many more years than me. I still have a lot of work ahead of myself. I think in this particular instance, probably one of the best things I would want people to recognize for me is you have to know where I am at on the football field at all times. If you don’t, then I should be causing havoc. And even if you do, I still want to cause havoc.”
That was then followed up by a question about whether Suh has thought about landing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when his career is over. “I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t," he answed. "Of course. Everybody thinks about the Hall of Fame. One of the first trips I took, I remember going to the Hall of Fame in Canton. I’ve been there a couple times. Obviously (you) see teammates there for breaking particular records – Calvin (Johnson), Matt Stafford – other guys like that. I’d love to be a part of it. Charlie (Sanders) – one of the best receivers in Detroit Lions history – to be there with him and see his bust, and obviously he unfortunately passed recently, it was special to me. I was really close to him. But of course you think about the Hall of Fame; but like I said, I’m very young. I think at this stage, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.”
Suh has an example of a player excelling late in his career playing next to him, as defensive end Cameron Wake continues to dominate as a pass rusher at 35 years old. “It’s exciting to see a guy like that, have the year he had last year, but see how he’s coming out and being just as good, if not better, in a lot of ways. I think this will be a very fun and exciting year for him. Obviously, he’s not having to worry about injury or anything of that sort, having a good offseason from the looks of it. Obviously, being with him the last four weeks, he’s in great shape.”
Suh was asked about what he has learned from Wake, replying, “Just pass rush. I think one of the things of being able to work with a guy like that, the way he rushes … I love the way he rushes. It’s actually funny, (we) were talking about that today with (Defensive Line) Coach ‘T’ (Terrell Williams). A lot of people think he’s a speed rusher, but a lot of times he uses his speed, but it turns into power. (He’s) really a straight line guy. I can learn certain techniques – hands and different stuff like that – from him. And he’s obviously seen a lot. I play outside a little bit. So, there are things for me to learn from him, without question.”
The conversation also turned toward the younger players on the team, and specifically first-round draft choice, defensive end Charles Harris. Suh told the media, “Charles, in my opinion, is a very focused kid. He’s very excited about his approach to the game. He’s very detail oriented. (He) obviously takes coaching very, very well (and) implements it very quickly as you coach him up in-game and (he) listens. Obviously he has been running with the ones and getting a lot of play time in our package we like to run in regards to pass rush. He has had a lot of good things from my opinion, but everybody has got a lot of work to do, so we’ve got a long way ahead of ourselves.”
Suh also admitted that he does feel old sometimes at 30 being around the 22 year olds, “Without question. Some of the music that they listen to is not necessarily (to) my liking, but I like being around the young guys. At the end of the day, they’re coming in here to help and play at a high level. I’ve spent some time while I’ve been here with them outside of the building. It’s good to be around young guys that have a different perspective. It allows me to think about things a little bit differently. I think even in practice, it allows me to get back to my basics. I don’t know if you guys have noticed, (but) we go off the field as defensive linemen and offensive linemen a little bit earlier, but we have that time to 1) Interact with the younger guys as they get work in and we can do extra work. So, those times are good for us to 1) Get back to the basics that we may not be thinking about when we’re in the heat of the battle and doing situational football and things of that nature.”
Finally, Suh was asked about Gase, and how the coach holds himself accountable when things in his control do not work out, including the example where Gase apologized to the team for taking so long in letting Wake become a full-time player last year, rather than the pass-rush specialist they tried to make him early in the season. Suh explained, “No question. I think Coach (Gase) is very accountability oriented 1) For his players (and) 2) For himself, and everybody in this particular organization. And that’s something that’s great, because he doesn’t put himself on a pedestal to say, ‘Everything I say is perfect.’ We’ve had some great conversations, especially this offseason even when I wasn’t here, about things of that nature and how we can get better as a particular team. He’s a great head coach and I think he’s only going to continue to get better because he has that mentality.”