Defensive end Dion Jordan, the Dolphins’ first-round draft pick, returned from a two-day stint on the nonfootball injury list Tuesday and said he expects to start participating in team drills in the next few days.
Returning from February shoulder surgery, Jordan was dressed in pads but participated only in individual drills. He indicated he expects to join team drills Wednesday or Friday. (The team has Thursday off.)
“That’s the next step — starting to do more live drills,” he said. “I’m trying to put [the injury] behind me. I’m taking the right steps so I can be ready to go. I’m ready to go.”
Coach Joe Philbin said Jordan’s return “is going to be a gradual process. We’ll see how he responds, how he feels [Wednesday] and take it from there.
“We’re never going to rush a guy if we don’t feel he’s ready. We’ll take our time. All football players tell you they are great and ready to go.”
Philbin said Jordan isn’t falling behind because “we’re teaching him the system, getting him acclimated to the scheme, stance, fundamentals. He sat in the classroom, he’s watched all the practice film.
“Obviously, there’s going to be a point he needs to go out there and make a couple of mistakes and learn from them and move forward as a player.”
Philbin dismissed a question about whether Jordan should feel pressure to perform as the third overall pick in the NFL Draft. He is expected to compete with Olivier Vernon at defensive end.
“This program is not about one player, one position,” Philbin said. “You’re one of 90 guys competing for a job. You’ve got to earn your keep. Everybody is equal out there.”
For his part, Jordan said: “I put pressure on myself to perform. It’s not just because I’m in the NFL now or I was drafted high. It’s something I’ve always done.”
Jordan said he is “leaning a lot” from defensive end Cameron Wake and has studied film of him.
Teammates are eager to see Jordan on the field for the first time.
“I’m as curious as anybody else,” linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. “I know we’re going to get a lot out of him.”
Said defensive lineman Jared Odrick: “He looks good in pads. He passes the eye test. He’s a grounded kid.”
Jordan was subjected to rookie hazing this week. Paul Soliai used a chemical provided by his wife on the heads of Jordan and fellow rookie linemen Emeka Onyenekwu and Tristan Okpalaugo on Monday night, leaving Jordan with an orange strip on his head.
Rookies Chris Burnette and A.J. Francis escaped Soliai’s prank because they are bald.
“I went first so I could get it out of the way,” Jordan said. “I’m paying my dues. I’m just doing what I’m told. I don’t know how my mother feels [about it].”
Soliai said Jordan must keep his hair that way for two weeks. “They took it as men,” Soliai said.
The defense was clearly ahead of the offense Tuesday in the first practice in pads. Ryan Tannehill threw interceptions to Chris Clemons and Ellerbe, and Jimmy Wilson picked off a Matt Moore pass.
Tannehill had a pass knocked down by Ellerbe, and his accuracy ranged from very good at times to very shaky at others.
The defense flummoxed the offense with various blitzes, resulting in sacks by Philip Wheeler and Reshad Jones, among others, and also forced Tannehill to throw sooner than he would like at times.
On the first play of 11-on-11 drills outside the practice bubble, Tannehill fell to the ground after tripping over one of his lineman’s feet.
Many of Tannehill’s completions early in camp have been on dump-offs or relatively short patterns.
His best throws Tuesday were a 30-yarder to Mike Wallace against busted coverage ( Brent Grimes was closest to it) and a beautiful throw to Charles Clay that was lofted perfectly over a defender.
But after the completion to Clay, Clemons jumped a route, picked off Tannehill and returned it for a touchdown.
Tannehill did not throw a touchdown. Moore didn’t throw one either Tuesday but has been sharper than Tannehill the first three days of camp.
Cornerback Jamar Taylor did not participate in practice because of lingering soreness from sports hernia surgery in May. He is not expected to be out for an extended period.