Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick rolled into training camp this year with the top of his dreadlocks touching the inside roof of a Fiat. That’s a car that could almost fit on a rear bike rack on the Range Rovers and Escalades that usually ferry 6-5, 305-pounders into training camp.
"If you’re going to save up anywhere, you might as well do it with your vehicle, with gas and some of the simple things," Odrick said. "I want to simplify a few things and make some things stretch. I still have another vehicle, I’m just using this one more often."
Odrick said his reference to making some things "stretch" wasn’t a sideswipe at his contract situation. But when talking about this season for Odrick, the contract status is the elephant in the Fiat.
He’s got one year left, the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, at a base salary of $765,000. While that doesn’t exactly restrict Odrick to Dollar General, fellow defensive tackle Randy Starks will make a $3 million base from an extension the Dolphins signed him to in March. Last year, Odrick started the first three games at the defensive tackle spot the shared, Starks started the rest.
Then, the Dolphins signed free agent defensive tackle Earl Mitchell to a four-year, $16 million deal with $9 million of that guaranteed.
"There’s no time where it’s (a season) not a big deal," Odrick said. "But in terms of my situation with me being five years in, it would be a mistake if I didn’t stay focused on my duties as a football player and what I have to do physically and mentally every day. I try to focus on that more than anything else."
The narrowing of focus, which would make Thoreau proud, doesn’t have a parallel with Odrick’s deployment. Last year, as the Dolphins went to a 4-3 more often than in previous years, Odrick played his more natural position of defensive tackle instead of the 3-4 defensive end he had been his first three seasons. He responded with a career high in tackles, solo tackles and 4.5 sacks.
But, especially with Dion Jordan suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, he’ll likely again see a chunk of snaps at defensive end.
"Jared has been a very effective player for us. The great thing about Jared is he’s got versatility," Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "Jared can play inside, he can play defensive end, he’s got a very good toolbox in terms of rushing the passer. He’s a big athlete. You don’t realize that Jared is over 300 pounds and he’s very agile. He can play physical at the point of attack. Just again, consistency, every snap getting the same thing.
"All of the players have to have discipline in what they’re doing," Coyle continued. "I think we preach that, we coach that and I think Jared, as he’s matured, has gotten better and better. But we expect big things from him and the fact that he does have that versatility makes him a very, very important part of our defense."
By the way, Odrick notes that the Fiat actually has more leg room than a Corvette.