For most Dolphins fans, Brice McCain was little more than a name on a roster when training camp began.
Consider Sunday his true introduction to South Florida.
McCain, the veteran corner getting more and more looks with the first team, broke up a deep pass to Jarvis Landry during one-on-one drills Sunday morning.
The hundreds in attendance groaned after yet another failed Dolphins downfield shot.
But in McCain's mind, they should have been cheering an excellent defensive play. So he motioned defiantly to the bleachers before clapping demonstratively.
"The crowd got mad," McCain said. "I was like, 'Oh yeah, get mad.' But it was all fun and games. We're all having fun out here. If you're not having fun, why play? We're competing. If you can't compete as a wide receiver or DB, you shouldn't be out here either."
McCain's competition is just beginning. He and Jamar Taylor are in a full-fledged battle for the Dolphins' starting corner job opposite Brent Grimes, with McCain getting more and more reps over the past few days.
With increased opportunity comes increased exposure. And to be sure, Landry has won more than his fair share of those battles. Not long after the downfield deflection, Landry made a near-impossible touchdown catch with McCain in coverage.
It's the nature of training camp. Players will win some plays, lose others. The Dolphins will ultimately pick a starter based on who wins more than he loses.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin praised both McCain, a free-agent pickup, and Taylor, now in his third year, saying he "really [likes] what they're both doing right now."
And the Dolphins are in no rush to make a decision. Ideally, Philbin said, he will decide on a starting lineup by the third preseason game. That gives the coaching staff four weeks to evaluate.
What's puzzling about the move is that Taylor has been solid, other than one deep ball he allowed the first day of camp.
The Dolphins have been grooming Taylor for this moment for three years, and by all accounts, he had an excellent offseason. Most importantly, the former second-round pick is healthy after injuries hampered his first two seasons.
And yet, for the second straight year, Taylor is battling a veteran newcomer for playing time. Last summer, Cortland Finnegan won the job. McCain is hoping to do the same.
"Since I got here, my whole goal was to start corner," McCain said. "That was my whole goal from Day One."
At the very least, the Dolphins want him to pick up where he left off in Pittsburgh: As one of the best nickel cornerbacks in football.
McCain was the league's second-most effective defender against slot receivers in 2014, according to the scouting service Pro Football Focus. He allowed a catch just once every 13 snaps in which he lined up on the inside.
Despite his lack of size — McCain is just 5-9. 190 pounds — the Steelers trusted him to play on the boundary, too. He covered out wide on more than half of his defensive snaps in 2014, starting nine games.
"Every corner wants to show that he's more than just the nickel," McCain said. "It's good to be able to do everything, and the more you can do, the more you can stay on the field."
But you can't get on the field if you're hurt. A sixth-round pick of the Texans in 2009, McCain was a role player his first few years. His career was trending in the right direction until late in the 2012 season, when he broke his foot and needed surgery.
He didn't feel right for all of the 2013 season, his last in Houston. A change of scenery did him well; he had the best year of his career for the Steelers in 2014.
"If I'm not injured, I'm playing pretty good," McCain said. "My whole objective to this year is stay healthy and help the team the most I can, win the starting job, so I can really help the team every down. That's my whole goal. I'm going to come out here and work every day for that."