Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero: Dion Jordan further tarnishes image by skipping Miami Dolphins’ voluntary program

Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan is shown at Miami Dolphins training camp Thursday, July 31, 2014.
Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan is shown at Miami Dolphins training camp Thursday, July 31, 2014. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

It is still, in all fairness, too early to say Dion Jordan is a monumental draft bust. He just turned 25, he still runs like a deer, jumps like an NBA dunk contest champion, and one does not easily dismiss a defender that in the past two years covered Rob Gronkowski and Calvin Johnson with success in separate games.

On many levels Jordan still titillates the same as he did in April 2013 when the Dolphins traded up to select him with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft.

But is Dion Jordan a disappointment?

Yes.

A problem?

Yes.

Better off on another team?

Probably.

Jordan was and remains the most notable and curious absence from the Dolphins’ offseason conditioning program. He is that because he has proven nothing his first two years with the team, and a young player with that inauspicious track record should have raced to the voluntary offseason program rather than elected to stay away.

And let there be no doubt, Jordan made the choice to stay away.

A Dolphins source confirmed Friday the team did not ask him to skip the program as a precursor to a trade. Indeed, the team expected him at the conditioning program just like everyone else.

But Jordan didn’t show the first day or the first week, and there are no indications he’s about to change that anytime soon.

“We’re in the voluntary part of the offseason program, and we’re really happy with the attendance, and if somebody chooses not to be here, that’s obviously their decision,” Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said Friday.

“We can certainly talk about the guys who are here.”

The Miami braintrust of Tannenbaum, general manager Dennis Hickey, and assistant GM Eric Stokes gathered for a media availability to discuss the coming draft. But Jordan, the team’s highest draft pick since Jake Long went No. 1 in 2008, looms so prominently that multiple questions were asked about him.

It created an uncomfortable atmosphere at a time normally reserved for the hope and promise of the coming draft’s talent infusion.

At one point, after the trio got done discussing how important finding players who love football is to them, the question about how much Jordan can possibly love football was asked.

Stokes, Tannenbaum and Hickey fell silent for a pregnant five seconds before Hickey jumped on the grenade.

“This is a predraft press conference,” the general manager said. “We’ll talk about the draft.”

The Dolphins couldn’t pick the topic of conversation any more than they could convince Jordan to show up for voluntary conditioning, any more than they could keep Jordan out of drug troubles that led to not one but two suspensions last year — one for performance enhancers and another for so-called street drugs.

The Dolphins cannot control this issue any more than they could author a quick return for Jordan from shoulder surgery in 2013 — a recovery that suffered a preseason setback and basically turned Jordan’s rookie year into a year of unmet expectations.

The irony here is Jordan’s rookie year was better than his second year. Last year there were the drug suspension(s), the time in therapy, and the coaching staff’s ongoing inability to find a time and place and space for Jordan to contribute.

Jordan had two sacks as a rookie. He had one last season.

The production, however, is not the most depressing part of all this. Jordan’s absence from the offseason program against the backdrop of his unmet potential is that. It suggests Jordan is giving up on the Dolphins. It clearly speaks to him not wanting to be around the team or his teammates.

This is happening, ironically, at the same time the Dolphins are discussing future prospects and weighing “a love of football” as a critical factor for making their draft picks.

“I say we need players who love football first and foremost,” Stokes said. “I think we need players who add toughness and bring physical presence.”

What part of Jordan not showing up screams he loves football? And how can one have physical presence without, you know, being present?

The Dolphins want players in this draft who view challenges as opportunities and respond to adversity and prosperity in much the same way. Jordan hasn’t come close to doing that.

Which leads me to this: It smells as if Jordan’s days with the Dolphins are numbered. If he’s not on the trade block now, he’ll likely be there during the draft next week.

The only thing that might keep him around is it would actually cost Miami $1 million more against the salary cap to trade Jordan than to keep him and no team is likely to give anything of high value as compensation anyway.

That’s how it goes when a player hasn’t proven he loves football.

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