Arian Foster’s long-awaited return to the football field came Sunday.
Dion Jordan, meanwhile, will have to wait at least few more weeks to complete his comeback.
The Dolphins made a flurry of roster moves Sunday morning, but two stood out:
They activated Foster from the physically unable to perform list, allowing the four-time Pro Bowl running back to practice for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon last fall.
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But they also placed Jordan on the non-football injury list, where he’ll remain for at least the next few weeks after needing knee surgery over the summer — which the team didn’t learn about until the league reinstated him Saturday.
“That was news to us,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “When you don't have contact with someone for as a long as we did, you don't know every little detail about what was going on.”
So what happened? How could a guy who hasn’t put on a uniform in 19 months hurt his knee? Neither Jordan nor the team would say Sunday.
“That's just between myself and the guys here,” Jordan said.
There were no such surprises with Foster, who was given the green-light to practice after spending the first two days of camp on PUP.
Foster said Sunday that he feels “better” than he did before the surgery — and it might not be hyperbole.
The ex-Texan star “annihilated” his conditioning test when he reported to camp on Thursday, Gase said.
“I think he was trying to prove a point to us like, ‘I’m ready to go,’” Gase said. “We just need to be smart.”
Foster acknowledged he was anxious to see how his reconstructed Achilles would respond, but those concerns quickly faded.
“I knew it was going to be fine,” Foster said. “I was training hard all summer. It went well today.”
Gase added: “I know he was itching to get in there. I think he personally has a lot to prove. He wants to show, ‘I’m coming back from this thing, I’m going to make something of this opportunity.’”
Jordan feels the same way, even if his long-term prospects with the team are as nebulous as his short-term availability.
The Dolphins made moves this offseason as if they wouldn’t have Jordan at all. They signed three free-agent defensive ends — Mario Williams, Andre Branch and Jason Jones — and brought back Cameron Wake.
There had been some talk of moving Jordan to linebacker, but at 275 pounds, he still has the build of a defensive lineman. The last Dolphins coaching staff did value Jordan’s special teams abilities, and he’d surely have to show the same again to the new staff if he’s going to make the team.
The Dolphins do have another option: Since Jordan began camp on the NFI list, they could simply keep him on it when the regular season begins. In that scenario, he would remain off their roster for at least the first six weeks of the season, allowing him to slowly re-acclimate to the NFL and providing the team a backup plan in case one of their top four ends gets hurt.
Then there’s the matter of Jordan’s finances. His knee injury will cost him $1.7 million, the amount of a roster bonus he was due if he was activated before Monday. Jordan also still owes the team $3.3 million in signing bonus money he forfeited during his 2015 suspension.
Jordan said that lost year was “tough” on him, and that he “wanted to prove to myself, first of all, and the people in this organization that I can be a big factor when I get out there.”
Jordan added: “I'm just a good person overall. I had a couple of bumps and I had to overcome them. It was part of my journey as a person, first of all, and as a football player second. I'm kind of just putting that in the past and learn from it and move forward so I make myself a better person.”