The Miami Dolphins finish their 2019 OTA sessions on Friday and the next (and final) marker of the offseason before training camp will be next week’s mandatory minicamp.
And that mandatory minicamp is, well, mandatory for every player on the roster.
And that will present us with a test of character and wills that will be apparent for all to see.
Here’s the situation:
Decorated safety Reshad Jones has missed all the OTAs the Dolphins had that were open to the media and the belief is he’s missed the ones not open to the media as well. That isn’t necessarily a big deal because those sessions are voluntary.
It is Jones’ right to skip the workouts, especially considering the guy is working out on his own, doing his own regimen somewhere else in town.
New coach Brian Flores has not complained once about Jones being absent. At least not publicly. This despite the fact Flores and his defensive staff have been using OTA sessions to install their defense and familiarize players with that voluminous package of stuff.
So there’s been a lot of information Jones has missed and must catch up on.
And then the interesting stuff comes into play ...
Flores, trying to establish a culture of competition and no entitlement, is not handing out starting jobs haphazardly. That’s for guys who are actually attending the workouts.
And it might apply even more to guys who haven’t been attending.
“I think everyone’s got to work to start in this league and on this team,” Flores said this week. “I think there’s no doubt about that. I would say there’s no sacred cows, not in this game. I think you have to earn what you get. That’s the case for everyone on the team. I think I’ve said that over and over again.”
So it seems if Flores really means what he’s saying, then next week when Jones reports to the mandatory minicamp he’ll have to start earning his starting job.
And he’s not going to be doing that running with the first team defense.
The guy who has not been around is not getting plugged right in to his usual spot ahead of a guy -- or guys -- who have been around and putting in the work with the team the past few weeks.
So where’s the test here?
The first test is for Flores. He said what he said. He laid down a marker.
Is he going to apply his rule to everyone, including a two-time Pro Bowl player such as Jones, who has been a perennial starter in the secondary since 2011?
This will be interesting to see, whichever way Flores goes -- because it will tell us more about the leader he plans to be.
And the second test?
Well, that will be a test for Jones.
It doesn’t escape memory that he is a very prideful individual. So much so that last year when then-defensive coordinator Matt Burke decided there would be a rotation in the secondary against the New York Jets and Jones would have to sit out plays while someone else played his spot in the game, Jones balked.
Jones started that game and played something like 13 snaps. Then he was replaced as part of the rotation. But when it came time for him to return, he refused. Jones quit playing that game.
So his answer to the rotation idea was basically a big no thanks.
(It was actually something else but this is a family space.)
That brings us back to next Tuesday when the team begins its first minicamp practice. If Flores is true to his word, Jones is going to be taking reps with backups -- either on second or third team.
And how is this prideful man going to react to that?
And what if he has to do this Tuesday? And Wednesday? And Thursday?
And then, assuming he’s on the team as general manager Chris Grier has promised, what if he has to do this at the beginning of training camp? How’s that going to sit with Jones?
We know he’s not going to like IT. But will his displeasure become public? Will it become a distraction?
Obviously, Jones can be a good soldier and can simply grin and bear having to climb the depth chart with this new coaching staff. Obviously, the staff can fold and let Jones take his repetitions with the starters regardless of what the head coach said.
If one of these two doesn’t happen, it will be an issue the Dolphins will have to manage.