Ndamukong Suh only saw a few plays in his maiden voyage with the Dolphins, but the impact of the new heart of the defense was clear.
While the regular season opener on Sept. 13 at Washington will be far more important to the Dolphins, Suh did show a little bit of what the team hopes will be in store for 2015 in Chicago Thursday night, despite the 27-10 Miami loss to the Bears.
On Chicago’s first offensive play, Suh caused Chicago tackle Jordan Mills to be called for a false start leading to the Bears going three and out in their first series.
“People are aware of his play and they are trying to block him,” noted defensive tackle Earl Mitchell. “That is the type of impact that he has on the field. That is amazing to be a part of.”
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Suh saw more action in the second series and his highlights for the night included blowing up one running play and getting some pressure on Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler.
The only time Suh officially made the stat sheet came via a neutral zone infraction penalty, but Suh’s presence inside was likely what the Dolphins were looking for when they signed him to a six-year, $114 million contract and making him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.
“He’s a fierce competitor,” Mitchell added. “He gives guys an opportunity for one-on-one blocking. A lot of offenses are strategizing how to win games based off his play so it opens up doors for other people on the field.”
Suh chose not to comment after the game.
Taking a look at the play of the first team defense, lineman Cameron Wake was pleased, but was concerned with the defeat even though the starters were long gone after Chicago had taken the lead.
“It was fun. We had a good time getting out there and getting after it,” Wake said. “From the top guy down to the last everybody has to go out there and finish the game off. We felt we were in a good place at halftime, but they played a better second half than we did. We didn’t finish and we have to get back to work.”
As for Suh, Wake said that it was difficult to tell what exactly he will mean to the team given the limited action and it all remains a work in progress.
“We need a much larger body of proof not only for him, but for the entire defense,” Wake said. “At the end of the day, it is the tip of the iceberg. We have a lot more to achieve and more work to do before we can say we are ready.”