When defensive linemen come with the overall size and athleticism as 6-6, 335-pound Dolphins second-round pick Jordan Phillips, the usual questions concern work ethic and consistency.
When the Dolphins signed free agent supertackle Ndamukong Suh, nobody questioned performance, only his willingness to take on a more active team leadership role than he did in Detroit.
What happened over the summer between Suh and Phillips won’t end those questions, but it gives a hint of how those players want said doubts answered.
“One thing he did is he encouraged Jordan Phillips to come out and train with him,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “That’s an example of leadership — of taking a young player, showing him obviously from a physical standpoint and a professionalism standpoint, a preparation standpoint, some of the things that he’s done to get himself ready.”
Being a rookie second-round pick from Oklahoma means you’re in the NFL building, several floors down from the perennial All-Pro penthouse where Suh resides. Whether or not Phillips heard of Suh’s reputation as being a bit of a solo act, he didn’t say.
But Phillips did say, “I just didn’t feel like he would be as open to helping a young guy like me, but he took on the role and took me under his wing.”
That happened after the Dolphins’ June mini-camp.
“Came up to me one day and asked if I wanted to train with him and see how he works,” Phillips said. “It felt good because it seemed like he believed in me and wanted me to do well.”
So, after the NFL Rookie Symposium, Phillips headed for the land of Nike and the Portland born-and-raised Suh – Oregon. He spent 22 days doing daily two-hour workouts with Suh, then returning to the hotel and his fiancée at night.
“Just how hard he works,” Phillips replied when asked what he learned. “It’s incredible. I’ve never seen anybody work the way he does. That’s something I want to resemble.”
The workouts included running, lifting, yoga and flexibility work. In fact, while Phillips named Suh’s fabled strength as the All-Pro’s standout asset — “If I can get to half as strong as he is, I’ll be fine” – he seemed as impressed by the added pliability in his physique.
“My hips are a lot more flexible from when I went in there,” he said.
Many pre-draft scouting reports projected Phillips as a perfect nose guard with his massive upper body, large lower body and long arms. Also, Phillips played a 3-4 at Oklahoma. But the Dolphins run a 4-3 and have had Phillips backing up defensive tackles Suh and Earl Mitchell, requiring a little adjustment on Phillips’ part.
“I was in a 3-4 and just reading the guy,” he said. “Now, it’s attacking, attacking.”
Since the start of training camp, Phillips said Suh has kept up the mentoring with corrections and encouragement: “He’s just really honest with me.”
And, when Phillips was honest with the media last week, he showed he’s not lacking in self-confidence (which, by the way, Suh wasn’t either when Detroit drafted him No.2 overall out of Nebraska).
“[Suh] does stuff great, I do stuff great. It’s being able to do everything,” Phillips said. “He does stuff I need to work on. I’m sure I can do something he can work on. It’s coming together.”
▪ The Dolphins had Monday off and return to practice at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Herald Staff Writer Adam Beasley contributed to this report
DOLPHINS TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE
▪ Tuesday, Aug. 4, 8 a.m.
▪ Wednesday, Aug. 5, 8 a.m.
▪ Thursday, Aug. 6, 8 a.m.
▪ Friday, Aug. 7, 7 p.m. (at FIU Stadium)
▪ Sunday, Aug. 9, 3 p.m.
▪ Monday, Aug. 10, 12:30 p.m.
▪ Tuesday, Aug. 11, 8 a.m.
▪ Saturday, Aug. 15, 1:15 p.m. (Finatics Season Ticket Members only)
▪ Sunday, Aug. 16, 8 a.m.
▪ Monday, Aug. 17, 8 a.m.
Note: All practices will be held at Doctors Hospital Training Facility in Davie except Aug. 7.
Call 954-452-7004 for more information.