Two months after suffering his fourth concussion as a professional, Jordan Cameron is feeling just fine, thank you very much.
The Dolphins tight end, who hasn’t played since Week 3, has heard the speculation that his career is over.
And he doesn’t like it.
“I'm not shutting the door on anything,” Cameron told the Miami Herald this week. “I'm going to wait until after the season. I'm kind of glad I get to talk to you because everyone's counting me out -- he's done, he's retiring. No, I'm not. I'll think about that after the season. That's really all I have to say about it.”
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Cameron, who was placed on season-ending injury reserve Nov. 5, has remained a part of the team since his latest injury. He attended the Dolphins’ West Coast swing (he’s from Southern California and played his college ball at USC), and has appeared in Miami’s locker room from time to time.
But Cameron hasn’t spoken at length about his most recent head injury -- until now.
Cameron said he feels “a lot better,” and insists that his fourth concussion was “definitely not” the most serious one he’s experienced. That title belongs to concussion No. 3, which he suffered while a member of the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 26, 2014.
Still, Cameron is keenly aware of the long-term risks associated with repeated head trauma.
The NFL in March acknowledged what the medical community had believed for some time: That there is a link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Repeated concussions can indeed cause the debilitating neurodegenerative disease, which affects behavior and ultimately leads to progressive dementia and even suicidality.
Cameron has been examined multiple times since September by a head-trauma specialist at the University of Pittsburgh who has told him “good things, all positive things,” Cameron said.
“That helps,” he added. “That's really what I wanted to hear. The crazy thing is, it's not -- nothing's certain with the brain stuff. That's really the biggest issue with this. No one really knows. They have ideas. They think they know what you're going to be like or how you're going to be when you're 50, but no one really knows.”
Cameron continued: “That's the whole unknown, the hardest part about what all this is. But he says I'm trending in the right direction and everything should be good.”
Cameron is just 28 years old and “strongly” believes he’s still in his physical prime.
“Obviously, when I watch the games, [I feel like] I can still go out there and kill it,” Cameron said.
Cameron is in the final year of his contract, so he might have played his final snap with the Dolphins, even if his career continues.
The Dolphins have gotten surprising production out of the tight end position with Cameron out. Concussions sidelined both Cameron and Dion Sims at the same time for a handful of games, but the Dolphins got a lift from Dominique Jones and MarQueis Gray. Coordinator Clyde Christensen recently said that the tight ends have been the most consistent group of his offense.
Then in Sunday’s win over the 49ers, a healthy Sims led the Dolphins with four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s just one of those guys that you don’t expect it from because he’s a big guy,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said of Sims. “He looks like he should just be your prototypical leave him protection, don’t release him on the routes, good run blocker. But for a guy his size, he does have good hands and he can run after the catch.”
While he would rather be out on the field with his teammates and friends, Cameron enjoys watching the tight end group -- and the Dolphins as a whole -- surprise people.
And the Dolphins enjoy having him around.
“He's such a good person, such a good dude,” said Dolphins tackle Branden Albert. “He's one of my favorite guys I've ever played with. He's a good person. I don't know the extent of everything. I don't ask. He don't tell me. I just hope he keeps playing and somehow everything's fine with him.”
▪ Counting Crows will headline the annual Dolphins Cancer Challenge celebration concert on Feb. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium. Tickets are available on ticketmaster.com.