Quite literally, Legedu Naanees name means Good is coming.
It just hasnt arrived yet, at least in the NFL.
But after two teams, two foot surgeries and five nondescript seasons, good and perhaps even more might just be around the bend in Miami.
Naanee, the journeyman receiver who signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins in the spring, has rocketed to the top of a teams depth chart after a string of solid practices. Naanee, who caught a team-high five passes in last weekends scrimmage, is projected to start Fridays exhibition opener against Tampa Bay.
And for the first time in a long time, hes completely healthy, comfortable and confident.
I feel like Ive caught the ball well, been able to beat press coverage, Naanee said after Tuesdays practice, where he made a series of tough grabs in traffic. I feel pretty good. Every season is a fresh start.
Six months ago, the thought that Naanee, 28, or Chad Johnson would be in the Dolphins starting lineup would have been farfetched. Having both of them running with the first team all camp would have been absurd.
But they, along with Davone Bess, have clearly been the best receivers on a team without a true No. 1, particularly with Brian Hartline continuing to miss time with an injured calf.
And if his production in practice translates to excellence in games, he could be the best $700,000 the Dolphins have spent in some time. Out of work last spring with serious concerns about his health, Naanee signed a league-minimum deal with Miami in April. Most saw him as a player brought in to provide depth and some competition. They were wrong.
Hes been a great leader for the room, said Mike Sherman, the Dolphins offensive coordinator. He does everything you ask him to do. Hes an unbelievable special teams player as well, so hes a total team player from that regard.
Now, he just needs to stay out off the athletic trainers room. Drafted by San Diego in the fifth round out of Boise State, Naanee was a budding receiver and contributor on special teams until the chronic problems began.
He needed surgery after the 2009 season, and played just one more with the Chargers before parting ways.
Ron Rivera, who was San Diegos defensive coordinator before taking the top job in Carolina, was familiar with Naanees abilities and offered him a shot with the Panthers.
Naanee went on to set career highs in catches (44) and receiving yards (467), but his 6-2, 215-pound body continued to fail him. He broke his foot again late in the 2011 season he was fighting for extra yards near the end zone and needed a second surgery.
When Naanee hit the 2012 free agent market, he had few suitors, but the Dolphins took him on as a low-risk gamble. After a sluggish minicamp, its beginning to pay off. Hes playing at a high level, in part because of a new orthotic device that has given him renewed confidence in his health.
I am absolutely not sugar-coating this, said his agent, David Canter. I told every single person when he signed here hed be the No. 1 receiver if healthy.
Added Dolphins corner Sean Smith: Hes a big, physical dude. He knows how to use his body. When you have somebody like that on offense, a guy who can catch the ball away from his body, thats huge for us.
In short, Naanee has made a name for himself in the past two weeks even if few can actually pronounce it. (The phonetic is LEG-ah-doo NAH-nay.)
The name is Nigerian, given by his father Agbora, who left the West African nation some 30 years ago. Agbora Naanee relocated to Portland, Ore., where he owns a string of businesses. Thats also where Legedu grew up, starting for four years at quarterback in high school.
Naanees immediate family lives in the United States, he still has relatives in Nigeria, and has gone back twice to visit.
Its a big part of who I am, the work ethic that hes instilled in me, Naanee said. Its that culture. A lot of guys that are Nigerian guys have a lot of the same qualities, and probably got me where Im at.