Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said over the weekend that Dion Jordan was on step one of "like 500" when he returned to the team after serving a year-long NFL drug suspension that was actually more like 16 months.
One of those steps passed Monday when the roster bonus deadline that was supposed to help determine Jordan's status on the team -- either on it or off -- came and went and nothing happened because ... well, because it was moot.
Jordan is recovering from surgery on his left knee. He's on the non-football injury list, which means he's not on the roster. So no bonus. And so he's got 499 steps before he factors for the Dolphins.
But, the direction I'm seeing this pointed, it is hard to fathom Jordan actually factoring.
I'm not talking about his drug problem. I'm not talking about his drinking. Remove those significant issues, which Jordan says he has addressed and continues to address, and I still don't see Jordan factoring from a sheer football perspective.
Consider this picture.
He has been away from football for over a year. And he returned to his team recovering from a knee injury and subsequent surgery?
Is this real life?
He has had plenty of time to work out and get in great shape. But although he says he's 275 pounds (who really knows because until he earns trust you cannot trust anything he says or does) he didn't look cut or strong in any way when I saw him.
And those two together mean things.
It means Jordan is going to miss two and maybe three weeks of camp. The last time he missed that much time in training camp was his rookie year. And despite having a relatively clean slate then, despite having played football the previous year, which is significant because he wasn't rusty, Jordan could not make up for the lost time.
So he didn't really factor all that much.
And now he's in the same situation. Well, he has more experience, one might argue. But that's relative because his limited experience his rookie season and limited experienced when he returned from his first and second suspensions in 2014 hardly a seasoned veteran made.
So Jordan is kind of right back where he was at the start of his rookie training camp: On the side. Falling behind while teammates sweat and work and hone skills.
That leads me to this: While Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Andre Branch, Jason Jones, Chris McCain and the other two or three defensive ends on the roster are getting better, Jordan is merely trying to get healthy. And those guys were better than Jordan at the start of camp to begin with because they've played, they've been in the conditioning program, they were under the team's care and direction the past six months most of them.
Jordan was under the care of a clinician who was trying to keep him on the right life path.
Sorry fans, none of this suggests Jordan will be a beast when he finally gets on the field. None of this suggests he's going to be in a position to legitimately earn a spot ahead of any of those named above.
And for that reason, it would not surprise if the team simply keeps him on NFI or moves him to the regular-season physically unable to perform list, thus giving Jordan more time to get his football legs under him, get some practice in when the window for such things open.
And then we can check back later on in the season to see where things are.
(And this is where some fan suggests the Dolphins trade Dion Jordan for a good player, maybe a cornerback such as Richard Sherman).
I doubt any team is going to give up a quality player for Jordan. Maybe someone gives up a sixth-round pick. Maybe.
Remember, Jordan is one failed test away from a lifetime ban.
Anyway, if I were making decisions -- which I'm not because I'm a stooge -- I would draw up a longterm football plan for Dion Jordan. The Dolphins are planning and supporting and doing things to make sure Jordan succeeds as a person. They need to do similar work to make sure he succeeds as a player.
I would look at the talent on my roster. I would look at Dion Jordan. I would look at the current situation. And I would determine the following:
I would determine Dion Jordan cannot and will not be in the plans now. I would determine Jordan is a strongside linebacker -- the position he played in college. I would determine Jordan has to drop 15 pounds to play that position. And forward we go to the midpoint of the regular season when we see if Jordan has done the work to become that player.
Why am I determining this?
Looking at the Dolphins roster, Jordan simply cannot beat out the defensive ends ahead of him right now. He's going to take snaps away from Wake? Williams? Branch? Jones? Be serious.
Looking at the roster, the linebacker corps has no serious depth. With all respect to Spencer Paysinger and Neville Hewitt, I would not be comfortable with them as the answer if either Koa Misi or Jelani Jenkins get hurt and miss time. And by the way, are you aware both Misi and Jenkins have missed time the last couple of seasons?
So Jordan as the backup plan.
And why him?
Because, again, he played the position in college. He wasn't a defensive end. The Dolphins didn't draft a defensive end named Dion Jordan in 2013. They drafted a kid who was so athletic he played all over the place, including some at end, because he could win on sheer athleticism. Except for the foreseeable future that doesn't matter because NFL tackles are typically pretty good, because Jordan is 35 pounds heavier than he was in college, and because he hasn't played any organized football since 2014.
It is now 2016.
So trim 15 pounds, get healthy, get in your playbook (tablet), and factor when it's your time.
Look, the only Dolphins player who has successfully covered Rob Gronkowski like, ever, is Dion Jordan in 2014. The guy the team used late in a game at Detroit to match up with Calvin Johnson was Dion Jordan.
The New England Patriots have a linebacker named Jamie Collins. He has pass-rush skills. But he is so valuable in coverage and doing so many other things, the Patriots use him in a manner that maximizes those skills. Jordan seems to have similar skills.
Dion Jordan is not a defensive end. Putting him there because he doesn't have to think and all he has to do is chase the ball is the easy approach. It'll be interesting to see if that approach bears fruit. I have doubts -- at least in the short term.