Here’s what Ndamukong Suh proved Tuesday as he practiced with the Dolphins for the first time:
A. He’s as good as advertised, spending more time in the Dolphins’ backfield than running back Lamar Miller.
And B. The benefits of participating in the league’s offseason conditioning program are wildly overrated — at least for the best players.
Suh, who has intentionally avoided team headquarters for most of the past month, was on the field for Tuesday’s organized team activities. At first blush, his time away hasn’t hurt him in the slightest.
Suh was a force during Tuesday’s shorts-and-helmets session, regularly beating right guard Billy Turner to collapse the pocket or blow up a running play. Suh’s only noticeable mistake: being too eager to make an impact. He jumped offsides at least twice during team drills.
“That’s what he does, right?” center Mike Pouncey said. “That’s why they gave him all that money. ... He’s coming off that ball full speed every play. He’s a guy who really uses the snap count to his advantage. He gets off the ball really fast, and that’s part of his game.”
Said Dolphins coach Joe Philbin: “I thought the energy was good. I thought he looked good. His quickness is good. He seems to be in pretty good shape. He seems to be catching onto the scheme and the defense well.”
The Dolphins signed Suh for $114 million for the next six seasons to make a difference, to take an underachieving defense and turn it elite.
The Dolphins on Tuesday gave the first hints of how they plan to use Suh, the highest-paid defensive player in league history. Suh played the “3 technique,” lining up across from Turner on the left side of the defensive line.
To his immediate left: four-time Pro Bowler Cameron Wake. Good luck figuring out a way to stop them both, NFL offensive coordinators.
“I’m not going to give any secrets, for sure,” Wake said Tuesday. “The plan is they don’t.”
Said Suh: “The sky’s always going to be the limit for us. … Whoever I line up next to, we always want to be somebody’s nightmare.”
When it came to X’s and O’s, Suh couldn’t help but be behind; his teammates have had a five-week head start with the playbook.
So Terrell Williams, Suh’s position coach, has been working “nonstop” to help his new star catch up.
And although Suh wouldn’t discuss why he skipped most of this spring’s voluntary workouts, he said the decision to attend Tuesday’s OTA session “was automatic. I never miss practice.”
That’s bad news for the Dolphins’ shaky interior offensive line. Turner and Dallas Thomas, the team’s leading candidates to start at right and left guard, respectively, both spent far more time going backward than forward Tuesday.
In that way, Suh’s presence was a blessing. Even in shorts, he highlighted the offense’s biggest liability and will continue to do so throughout the summer.
“I’m a guy who’s always going to react, play off instincts,” said Suh, who has 36 sacks in 78 career games. “I think the best football players do that. I study the terminology in the classroom and when I’m at home. And, obviously, when I’m on the football field, if I hear something, I go with it. ... Once I put my hand in the ground, it’s over.
“I was just going out there and playing as hard and as fast as I can. If I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to do it full speed. Especially being in the backfield, if I make mistakes. That’s what I was brought here for. That’s the way I know how to play, that’s the way I’ve been playing the last five years.”