The NFL has not reinstated Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan from suspension at this point. But Jordan is working hard to get back, a source close to the team said tonight.
Jordan, the third overall pick of the 2013 draft, was suspended all of last season because of a violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
There were two encouraging messages delivered on social media tonight by people close to him:
Tareq Azim, who trains Jordan, said: "Happy to announce my man @dionj95 will solidify his presence to the world. #NFL #stableofchampions#humbleanimals#2016seasonisours@empowersanfrancisco." Here's that post from Azim:
tareq.azimHappy to announce my man@dionj95 will solidify his presence to the world #NFL #stableofchampions#humbleanimals #2016seasonisours@empowersanfrancisco
The Dolphins are open-minded to giving Jordan another chance because he's talented, coachable and not a bad guy, despite his troubles. (Personal aside: I always found Jordan polite and cordial, and you hope he gets everything back on track after multiple violations of the league's substance policy.)
Everyone involved (Jordan, the Dolphins) hope he will be reinstated before this coming season, but it's ultimately in the commissioner's hands. If he is eventually reinstated, he would join a defensive end group including Cam Wake, Mario Williams, Andre Branch, Chris McCain and Terrence Fede, among others. Free agent Jason Jones also remains on Miami's radar.
MARK RICHT TALK
As Mark Richt took the stage at the Casino of Dania Beach and addressed several hundred Hurricanes fans for the first time on Monday night, he admitted that he “started to get a little bit bored” at Georgia after giving up the play-calling in 2007, that it’s not especially enjoyable if you “don’t do the actual hands-on coaching.”
So instead of being worn out and chewed up from 15 high-pressure years coaching in the Southeastern Conference, Richt, 56, seems relaxed, rejuvenated and re-energized, for reasons that go beyond the pride of coaching at his alma mater. He’s also convinced that calling plays and running the offense will strengthen his connection with players.
Richt recently explained it quite well to former UM Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta on Sirius XM:
“When you turn over the play calling responsibilities and become more of a CEO type head coach, a lot of coaches had success doing it that way, and we certainly had success at Georgia over the years, [but] it's just not as much fun,” Richt said. “And players over time see you as the grandfather figure over there just keeping an eye on everybody.
“Now I'm in the heat of every meeting, heat of every battle on the field, installing stuff, calling stuff. They see my energy, they see my competitive spirit that's a little more reserved if I'm not in the heat of it.
“It's healthy for me. I’m enjoying it tremendously. It’s healthy for the players to see me get down and dirty with everybody else. That was the biggest thing for me; the biggest change is installing the offense, coaching the quarterbacks, just coaching again. That’s what I enjoyed the most. That might be what I did the best.”
Running backs coach Thomas Brown, who coached with Richt at Georgia, told ESPN that Richt’s move to UM, combined with calling plays and coaching quarterbacks again, “gave him new life. He’s taken 20 years off his life. He shows more energy, more passion. He’s re-energized.”
We had a lot of snippets from Richt's Monday night address in this post. Some others:
• A fan asked Richt how he handles the team’s lack of speed at receiver, which Richt has voiced concern about.
“It’s called recruiting,” he said. You can work hard on speed and agility and flexibility. We have two guys 6-4, 6-5 [Lawrence Cager and Darrell Langham] who don’t have to be super fast. If you don’t have a downfield threat, people kind of close in on you. We have a guy or two that can run pretty good. We need more. There are some on the way.”
• Richt reiterated that it has been difficult to determine how good his cornerbacks are because “I don’t know we can threaten [them] enough in practice to show what we have in reality. No question losing Artie Burns and Deon Bush was a big hit… We are going to be playing some inexperienced guys.”
Richt acknowledges the fascination with playing man to man defense but says he won’t leave a corner on an island against a great receiver if help is needed. “We are not going to sit there and be stubborn,” he said. “One day when we have enough guys to lock ‘em all down, we’ll make everybody miserable.”
• UM already has 15 oral commitments for 2017 and expects to end up with more than 20, Richt said…. He confirmed UM already has offered two eighth-grade quarterbacks. Both are Georgia-based: Max Johnson (Richt’s nephew and son of former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson) and Harrison Bailey of Powder Springs, Ga.
Max Johnson told Canesport that Richt told him: “We wouldn’t offer if we didn’t think you were good enough.” Bailey told Youth1 that Richt told him “we usually don’t offer young bucks like you, but you’re talented and we think you can handle it. We don’t think you’ll get a big head and we want to offer you a scholarship.”
• Richt’s hiring has been good for business. . UM already has sold more than 6600 new season tickets, most ever at this point in the offseason and are moving toward 40,000 overall season tickets for the first time since leaving the Orange Bowl. UM’s 8100 Hurricane Club members are its most ever; joining requires donations of at least $50.
And there’s there: There were 275 former players who attended Richt’s and UM’s party/reunion the night before the spring game,
compared to 110 for Golden last year.
• UM, working on a contingency plan in case the stadium formerly known as Sun Life is not ready for the Sept. 3 opener against Florida A&M, prefers Marlins Park to FIU, because it can accommodate far more fans.
• Richt got a loud ovation when he said this, because it’s quite a difference from last year’s defensive approach: “We’re not considered a 2-gap team. We are going to penetrate, get in the gaps. Coach Kool [Craig Kuligowski] is one of the best defensive line coaches in the country."
• Richt isn’t happy about the NCAA overturning its recent ban on satellite camps – which allows coaches like Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh to gather prospects in South Florida and elsewhere and have his staff coach them for a day in what many say masquerades as a recruiting pitch.
“I think if you can’t get ’em on your own campus, they’re probably not going to come anyway,” Richt said.
“The job is tough enough as it is. It is quite a grind for the coaches. I do want them to see their children. I want them to be fathers and husbands. Sometimes the more you add, the more you wear out your people. I don’t think they’re necessary to get the job done.
“To me it’s illegal recruiting off-campus, quite frankly, at a time that’s supposed to be a non-contact period. You’re just creating contacts off-campus during a time you’re not supposed to be. Schools that are in places that aren’t that desirable want to come to your place. Everybody wants to come to paradise. We’ll see what happens.”
UM AD Blake James also is opposed to the camps: “It’s important to keep football recruiting scholastic. Football is the only sport where the model is scholastic. We have a recruiting calendar. What this does is circumvents the recruiting calendar. It creates recruiting nonstop throughout the year through these combines — they’re not camps, where you teach kids how to be better football players. They’re there to be an evaluation. That’s where we’re at as a conference, that’s where we’re at as an institution.
“We’ve made it clear we’re opposed to them. But as of right now, they’re on."
Manny and Ethan will have all the news and notes from Toronto and more fallout on the Chris Bosh announcement today. In a meantime, a six-pack of other Heat items:
• Today's announcement, made jointly by the Heat and the Bosh, that he would not play again this postseason offered some closure but wasn't the least bit surprising.
What was especially interesting was this part of the statement: "The HEAT, Chris, the doctors and medical team have been working together throughout this process and will continue to do so to return Chris to playing basketball as soon as possible."
As I've reported for weeks, Bosh is determined to continue his career and has told people that he has no intention of retiring. But this is the first time the Heat made a statement suggesting it is supporting efforts to make that happen, as opposed to pushing him toward retirement.
• Here were LeBron James' comments about the possibility of a Heat-Cavs Eastern Conference Finals, in case you missed it:
"It would be great to play against those guys in the postseason. But I've always, throughout my whole career, I've always wanted to go against [Dwyane] Wade in a playoff series. We've always talked about it even before we became teammates in '10. It's not been heavy on my mind, but it's crossed my mind throughout my whole career."
Wade, asked about that today, said:
"I won't say, 'bucket list,' but that's something we always talked about. Obviously, you want to play against the best and we respect each other as being two of the best competitors. We never thought we would play together, so we always thought it would be an opportunity, being in the Eastern Conference.
"But right now, that's not something I'm focusing on. We've got a very tough team in front of us. And I'm only focused on Toronto.... You talk to me after we get four wins in this series. Then I'll answer that question."
• A month after George Karl was dismissive about the quality of Hassan Whiteside's on-the-ball-defense, Charles Barkley said last night: "He never blocks his own man's shots. It's always on help. He goes for pump fakes all the time."
I'm not in Toronto to ask Whiteside about this, but he told me disagreed with Karl's assessment. And in his defense, he does get some blocks on the man he's covering, including a block on Jonas Valanciunas in their March game.
• The Heat is now 9-1 all-time in playoff overtime games. Its .900 winning percentage is the highest among the 27 NBA teams that have played in at least three overtime playoff games, per Elias.
• On the other hand, ESPN says each of the last two times that a player has hit a game-tying three with less than a second left have come against the Heat: last night by Kyle Lowry, and 2013 by Paul George.
• Way too early to count on a Heat win in this series, but if you're a longterm planner, Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Finals are tentatively set for Saturday, May 21 and Monday, May 23, both at night. Miami would host those games if Cleveland is the opponent.