The Miami Dolphins are in Phase II of their offseason conditioning program and Ndamukong Suh missed the start of the program and is likely not going to be around for parts of this second round, either. And everyone is fine with that.
And I’m fine with that.
And you should be fine with that.
There was a time in the spring of 2015 when Suh missing the Dolphins’ offseason conditioning program was a topic that raised eyebrows. Back then, the defensive tackle had just signed a new $114,375,000 (yeah, that’s a lot of digits) contract, making him the newest and highest-paid player on the team.
And then the newest and highest-paid player on the team blew off the new team’s conditioning program. And that was, as I wrote at the time, bad optics.
It wasn’t terrible in that Suh would not be in shape. But it was bad in that he would not be in the locker room, that he wasn’t showing leadership and making a point and doing all that chemistry stuff some people outside the team generally don’t understand.
Then-coach Joe Philbin didn’t like that Suh didn’t show up for parts of the program but there was nothing he could do about it. The program was then as it remains today, a voluntary thing.
Fast forward two years and Adam Gase and the Dolphins are generally fine with Suh missing significant parts of the program. And that’s fine because Suh’s time with the Dolphins isn’t about optics anymore.
He’s been around two seasons and everyone knows he’s going to be one of the best conditioned players on the team. Everyone knows he’s going to play more snaps than practically any other defensive lineman. Everyone also knows Suh isn’t spending his days at a beachside Tiki bar or laying in bed eating chips.
He’s in Oregon at the Nike facility availing himself to their equipment, which is reportedly as sophisticated as it gets. He’s not in South Florida getting in shape. He’s at Nike getting in shape.
So the bottom line is Suh is going to be in shape.
And what about the leadership and chemistry stuff?
Well, these Miami Dolphins aren’t quite as starved for leaders as the 2015 team was. The leadership on this team starts at the top and filters down. Philbin, bless his heart, was lacking in the leadership department. Gase is not.
And the team has new leaders in the locker room that it didn’t have then.
Lawrence Timmons is going to be a leader on defense.
Ryan Tannehill is developing into a leadership role over the entire team -- something he wasn’t empowered to be in 2015.
Anthony Fasano is quickly going to regain his stature as a leader.
Kenny Stills is perhaps the hardest working player on the team so he’s leading.
Andre Branch is a leader in his own way, Cameron Wake is one in his own way. Byron Maxwell is in his own way.
Suh will be a leader also. But he doesn’t have to be the leader.
By the way, Suh has told the team he won’t miss any practices during OTAs and will be present for minicamp. So when the team puts on helmets, he’ll be present.
And now you’re going to wonder what example this all sets for the other guys -- specifically the other defensive tackles on the team.
That’s a fair question because the Dolphins have a young set of DTs beyond Suh. Jordan Phillips will be playing in his third season and the Dolphins are going to ask a lot from him. He must be ready to deliver so now is his time to get ready. The Dolphins also drafted Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor and they desperately need some mentoring.
That mentoring must come from Suh because both Godchaux and Taylor said the day they were drafted they look up to Suh and want to be like Suh and pattern themselves after Suh.
Suh has reached out to each of his two new rookie teammates. So he’s out of sight but not beyond texting or calling. And my guess is he’ll try to help them as much as he can when he actually arrives back in South Florida.
But for now Godchaux and Taylor -- who want to be like Suh -- have to realize they’re not Suh. They’ve not been to Pro Bowls. They’ve not proven a darn thing. They haven’t even made the team.
So while Suh is away from the team this part of the year and he gets a pass for it, the rookies have to understand the same rules don’t apply to them.
Not yet. Maybe not for a long time, if ever.
Isaac Asiata signs contract
Miami Dolphins fifth-round pick Isaac Asiata signed his four-year contract worth approximately $2.6 million Thursday evening, becoming the first of the team’s pick to sign a contract.
The reason we know?
Isaac Asiata broke the story himself on Twitter, sharing a photo of himself signing the documents at the team’s offices.
The Dolphins did not confirm the signing. Indeed, there was no press release nor tweet from the team. So Asiata legitimately broke the news.
By the way he also broke this: He will wear No. 68 with the Dolphins.
Expect the team to catch up to its rookie news breaker Friday morning.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter @ArmandoSalguero