In NFL math, Randy Starks represents, if not a given, at least a known to the Dolphins: veteran, steady, hasn’t missed a regular-season game since the iPhone could be called “newfangled.”
They know he will play Saturday against Tampa Bay in the dress-rehearsal exhibition game.
First-round pick Dion Jordan represents X, the unknown. Nobody knows when Jordan, a defensive end, will be back from the reinjured shoulder, only that he won’t be healed in time for this week’s preseason game.
Asked if he would be surprised if he missed the opener, Jordan said, “It’s my body, so I know when I’m ready to go or not ready to go. It wouldn’t be a surprise.”
Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said Wednesday he thinks Jordan will be ready for the opener, but …
“There’s always going to be a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C as you approach the season,” Coyle said. “We have a plan in place to utilize Dion, provided that he’s up and ready to go. I think he’s making strides with his rehab and working with our trainers and strength coaches. So we are ready to implement that plan if, in fact, we get the green light.
“If not, we are proceeding as if we wouldn’t have him in another plan. That’s just part of football where a guy goes down, you’ve got to have a plan. One person doesn’t necessarily completely alter your game plan, so there are other people who can play the role we originally had planned for Dion as well on the current roster.”
Jordan did’t play last week after being a third-down specialist the first two exhibition games. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if he saw some time at linebacker at some point this season.
Jordan tore a labrum last season and wasn’t entirely healed by the draft. But the Dolphins took the plunge anyway. Jordan did say the shoulder was feeling “much better” Thursday as he worked with a coach alongside offensive tackle Nate Garner outside while the rest of the team practiced in the practice bubble.
“It’s frustrating,” Jordan admitted. “Being a rookie, you want to get out there and compete.
“But the most important thing for me is my health, so I’m going to make sure I’m ready to go when I do step out there.”
Saturday represents the preseason opener for Starks after spending August dealing with an ailing knee. He has never missed a regular-season game as a Dolphin and only four in his nine NFL seasons. He hasn’t missed exhibition games, either.
On Saturday, he wants to play however long the starters play to make sure he’s not rusty. But, like many NFL players of a certain age, he clearly has limited enthusiasm for the preseason.
“This is my first time [missing exhibition games],” Starks said with a small smile. “Feels good to be a vet, get those privileges.”
Coyle said that with Starks, Jared Odrick and Paul Soliai, “We feel they will be in a rotation, and they will play fairly evenly depending on the situation as we go through the games.
“We think we’ve got three of the better players at their position around at the defensive spot ... and they’ve all got versatility to be able to play, with Paul and Randy, at the nose and at the tackle,” Coyle said.