DAVIE, Fla. – Dion Jordan's NFL career got off to a slow start with the Miami Dolphins. It's time for the rookie defensive end to start making an impact.
That's how the third overall selection in this year's draft — and the first defensive player taken — sees it. Jordan has begun making some plays in recent weeks, and with the Dolphins back at practice Monday after their bye, he is hoping to build on that.
The Dolphins, who traded up in the first round to land Jordan, worked him in slowly at the beginning of the season after he sat most of the preseason while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
But his workload has increased in recent weeks, particularly in light of the knee injury sustained by two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake. Jordan totaled 25 defensive snaps in the first two regular season games, but his count has been at 21 or higher for each of the last three.
"I can see myself progressing every week, but I expected more out of myself," Jordan said. "But it's still a long season. The more comfortable I get out there, the more reps that I get, the better I'll end up doing."
Wake, who left after only three plays in Miami's last game against Baltimore on Oct. 6 after missing a game at New Orleans, returned to practice Monday. He wouldn't guarantee he'd be back in the lineup Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
Jordan's first big play for the Dolphins came in their home opener Sept. 22 against the Atlanta Falcons. With the Dolphins holding a 27-23 lead in the final minute, Jordan got pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan and forced him to move up in the pocket. Ryan's throw was picked off by safety Jimmy Wilson for a clinching interception.
"He's making progress, there's no question about it," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said of Jordan. "I think he's getting more familiar with his job responsibility, how he fits into the defensive scheme. I think he's starting to make some more plays. He's had some impactful plays and we'll be looking for him to continue to do that."
Jordan had another big play in the fourth quarter against the Ravens. He hit the ball as Joe Flacco was about to release it, producing a floater that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by safety Reshad Jones, which tied the score at 23 in a game Baltimore would win 26-23.
The play came two snaps after Jordan had dropped a potential interception after sniffing out a Ravens screen pass.
"I was getting really, really close throughout the whole game," Jordan said. "I really wanted to make up for it after I bummed the interception. I was just like, 'get off the ball, get off the ball,' and I reached at the right time and got just enough of the ball. It turned out to be a real big play for our team."
Jordan's stat line through his first six NFL games: six tackles, two passes defensed and three quarterback hits. His only sack came in the season opener at Cleveland on a play when he was flagged 15 yards for grabbing quarterback Brandon Weeden's face mask.
In the first six games, Jordan has played about as many snaps on special teams (94) as he has on defense (97).
Jordan says he's hoping to get an increased workload at defensive end, but is focusing on making the most of the snaps he does get.
"Just trying to maximize my opportunities," Jordan said. "That's pretty much what it is, especially when you get the amount of reps that I've been getting, just trying to maximize those opportunities.
"Of course, anybody, especially as a pass rusher, I want to get out there and try to make an impact for my squad. But I understand what the situation is, and me and my coach talk about it a lot, about him getting me out there a lot more each week. It comes down to me, by what I show him by the way I prepare leading up to the game."
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