Adam Beasley reports from the first day of Dolphins training camp
The word came down from Park Avenue right at 10 a.m.:
Dion Jordan, the Dolphins’ prodigal son, is back in the flock.
In a four-paragraph statement, the league announced that it had reinstated Jordan — suspended the past 15 months for a series of failed drug tests — on a conditional basis.
The former No. 3 overall pick won over the league by demonstrating a commitment to get, and stay, clean.
Now comes Part 2 in Jordan’s comeback story: winning over his new coach and old teammates. That could prove just as difficult.
Jordan last suited up for the Dolphins three days after Christmas in 2014.
That was two head coaches and countless roster moves ago. Those who remain might need to be convinced his personal growth is real this time. And those who are new have no allegiance to him.
“I’ve never met him,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “I just know when he gets here, like I said, fresh start with me. So I guess that’s really all that matters.”
Gase’s lack of conviction shouldn’t be a surprise. Even before his drug issues, Jordan didn’t exactly shine. He has just three career sacks in 26 games. And unless Jordan makes a position change, he remains a defensive end — and would be, at best, the team’s fifth-best player at that spot.
Still, friends privately insist that he hasn’t failed a drug test since 2014 and is in the best shape of his life.
One associate told the Miami Herald: “Dion is ready. When you see him, you will know how ready.”
Koa Misi has seen Jordan recently. Their paths crossed at the airport.
“He’s always been a monster,” Misi said. “He’s an athlete no matter what. Definitely will be a good addition to this team, and we’re happy to have him back.”
Misi added that Jordan’s teammates “got to be there for him,” and he’s “already shown a lot, just to get to where he is now, to be able to come back into the league. He’s got to keep building off of that.”
The NFL will insist that he does. If not, Jordan’s comeback will end before it really begins.
As part of Jordan’s reinstatement, he must undergo counseling and will be reevaluated before the start of the season.
“Jordan may join the Dolphins at training camp and participate in meetings, conditioning work and similar activities,” the NFL said in a news release. “Once arrangements have been confirmed regarding Jordan’s clinical resources in Miami, he will be permitted to participate in all preseason activities, including practices and games.”
Jordan’s evaluation prior to the season will determine his availability for Week 1. He will be evaluated later in the season for full reinstatement, the NFL said.
But unless something goes drastically wrong, Jordan will be on the roster Monday, when his $1.69 million bonus would kick in. However, odds are he’ll never see it. Jordan still owes the team $3.35 million from his original signing bonus because of his multiple suspensions.
Regardless, the Dolphins plan to give Jordan a full preseason to prove, once and for all, if he deserves a spot on the team.
“He’s a freak athlete,” said Earl Mitchell, who played with Jordan on the Dolphins’ defensive line in 2014. “The tape says itself. You see him covering guys like Calvin Johnson or Rob Gronkowski, it speaks volumes about his athletic ability. It’ll be good to have him back. It gives us a better rotation on the D-line.”
Added linebacker Kiko Alonso, Jordan’s teammate at Oregon: “That guy is a hard worker. I have never questioned his work ethic or conditioning. ... His desire and work ethic is second to none.”
Unfortunately for Jordan, the opinions of Mitchell and Alonso aren’t what count. In the end, he must prove to Gase that he still deserves a place on this team.
“We’re still at the beginning stages of this,” Gase said. “... The good thing is, we’ll have a plan. We’ll have an understanding of what we need to do and the steps we need to take moving forward.”
Dolphins training camp
Where: Baptist Health South Florida Training Facility.
Practices open to public: Saturday, 8:35 a.m.; Sunday, 8:35 a.m.; Monday, 8:35 a.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m.; Friday, 8:35 a.m.; Aug. 8, 9 a.m.; Aug. 9, 8:35 a.m.; Aug. 10, 8:35 a.m.; Aug. 15, 8:35 a.m.; Aug. 16, 8:35 a.m.; Aug. 17, 8:35 a.m.
Tickets: Free; available at Dolphins.com