Since the start of the 2011 season, Reshad Jones has started all but four of the 111 games in which he has appeared.
He’s totaled 725 tackles over that time, picked off 20 passes, scored six defensive touchdowns and made two Pro Bowls.
But none of that happened with Brian Flores as his coach.
And since Jones has elected to stay away from the team’s voluntary program, including OTA practices, Flores has not had a chance to evaluate first-hand Jones’ ability at age 31.
So assuming Jones returns to the team next week for the Dolphins’ mandatory minicamp, which the team believes he will, Jones will have to take back that starting job with his play on the field and work in the classroom, Flores suggested Wednesday.
“I think everybody’s got to work to be a starter in this league, and on this team,” Flores said. “There’s no doubt about that. I would say there’s no sacred cow, not in this game. You’ve got to earn what you get. That’s the case for everyone on the team. I’ve said that over and over again.”
That could create a fascinating dynamic next week, particularly if Flores and Patrick Graham tell Jones to work with the third string in practice.
Jones, in his mind, is no third-stringer. He’s often said he’s the best safety in football — period.
And he reacted poorly when his coaches last year took him off the field, even for a safety.
He refused to re-enter the Dolphins-Jets game last November when the coaching staff platooned him with younger players.
Jones later insisted he did not quit on his teammates, but Adam Gase and Matt Burke saw it differently. They benched him for the first quarter the following week.
Jones is owed $13 million in base salary this year ($11 million of which is guaranteed) and will cost $17 million against the cap, both the highest on the team.