Dion Jordan came to the Dolphins with high promise and expecations as the third overall draft pick in 2013. Then stuff began to happen.
He wasn't able to practice very much last training camp as he rehabilitated from shoulder surgery. When he did begin to practice and play, he soon suffered a setback to the surgically repaired shoulder. And so his rookie season was basically lost amid the team's need to play people who were stronger, more prepared, more experienced.
Well, this year Jordan is ready for training camp. No issues. He's healthy. All good ...
... Except that he's already been suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances.
So one year he's handicapped in the preseason and this year he's handicapped in the regular season. Not good.
"Let’s face it, four weeks off from football is not going to be a benefit," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin tells me. "So we have to have him do some work.”
Philbin means Jordan will have to get work -- a lot of it -- in training camp. And that will have to carry him over for four weeks once the regular-season begins.
The problem is the coaching staff is going to have to figure out how to work Jordan as much as possible without hurting players who will, you know, actually be on the field for the start of the regular season.
“This is a brand new world because we haven’t had a player suspended in our previous two training camps," Philbin said. "As a young player, my feeling is he needs to get work – especially in the bigger picture that he’s not going to be getting work later on. He needs work now.
"But we can’t jeapordize the preparation of other guys. At the same time, we’re going to have to get him work. He’s going to get it without a doubt. And he needs it. And he needs padded work. You think back to last year’s training camp, he had very minimal repetitions in things he needed. You think back to last year, we had eight or nine of those days when we had those one-on-one periods where there was some form of a half line where there are two guys going old fashioned high school stuff.
"We have to be ready to go Sept. 8th but at the same time we can’t stunt his growth."
And while the Miami coaching staff tries to walk the fine line, this much is certain:
Dion Jordan has effectively killed his chances of being a starter when he returns to action after four games. No matter how much work he gets, no matter how well he plays in training camp practices and the preseason, the Dolphins cannot promote him ahead of, well, anybody because they know Jordan won't be around when the regular-season begins.
Jordan may get a lot of playing time in the preseason finale while other veterans and starters are held out in preparation for the regular season. But that is hardly expected to matter five weeks later when he returns.
And no matter how well Jordan performs in the preseason, he won't be a starter when he returns to the team because obviously he'll have been a month without participating in any actual football regimen.
Not the best way to start a career for a No. 3 overal pick who is expected to make an instant impact.