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It is no coincidence that Dion Jordan’s cubicle in the Dolphins locker room is situated right between Cameron Wake and Richie Incognito. The idea is simple and well thought out: Follow the leaders, watch how they prepare, listen to their words and, when necessary, pick their brains.
“I know I’m right here for a reason,” said Jordan, gazing over at Wake who is surrounded by cameras and tape recorders. “They want me to feed off of these guys.”
In Incognito’s case, he is one of the outspoken leaders of this team. He will say anything to anyone and if the tall lanky rookie with the big contract takes a wrong turn, Incognito will steer him in the right direction.
But Wake has a much larger role in this crash course of sorts for Jordan, the same role Jason Taylor and Joey Porter had when Wake first came to the Dolphins. Wake is the mentor, the guidance counselor, the dietician, the confidant. How lucky is Jordan? He’s got one of the top three pass rushers in the league sitting right next to him, offering advice whether it is solicited or not.
“He sits next to me in the defensive meeting room as well,” Wake said. “Hey, when I first got here I didn’t know anyone in the state of Florida. Didn’t know where to get my car washed. Didn’t know where to get my hair cut. The older guys helped me a lot and I want to be there for him. We go out sometimes. We talk. I think it’s important.”
Important for Jordan to get a feel for what this life is all about. But even more important for Jordan to become a bigger factor on this defense. There are high expectations that come with being the No. 3 overall pick in the draft. You expect first-year production. You expect big plays. You expect clear signs that the Dolphins made the right choice.
So far it hasn’t been the easiest of paths for Jordan. There was the lingering issue of a shoulder still recovering from surgery months ago. That shelved him for much of the preseason. So Jordan has been playing catch-up ever since and only against Atlanta did he first see significant action. Jordan played well: had a nice third down stop and put enough heat on Matt Ryan to force a game-ending interception.
Now, another step awaits. Wake is nursing an injured knee. Jordan will be on the field more. It is time to produce, time to take all the knowledge that Wake has imparted on Jordan and apply it to game day.
“I don’t feel pressure,” Jordan said. “I knew coming into this league and it would take a lot of work on my part. But I know I can play in this league. I watch our opponents. I watch my teammates. I just have to continue to work on all the minor details of my job because all of those things add up.”
Jordan’s presence has already been felt on special teams. He’s on kickoff coverage, on kickoff returns, on field goal block and on punt returns. “Really enjoy it,” he says. “I want to help this team anyway I can.”
But the way he can help this team the most is rushing the quarterback and producing big plays for the defense. Jordan is still trying to live down that play in Indy when he failed to bring down Andrew Luck and instead seemed to be playing two-hand touch.
“I let up on that play,” he said. “Everybody had something to say about that play. I thought it was going to be a pass. No excuses. It won’t happen again.”
Said Wake, sitting next door: “I let him slide on that one. He knows he needs to be more aggressive.”
So after three games, the advancement of Dion Jordan remains a day-to-day mission. He is healthy now. He knows the defense. He is about to see a dramatic increase in his playing time. There is no doubt within the inner sanctum of the Dolphins organization that this was the right player for the right reasons. But it is rare to find a rookie that doesn’t need seasoning.
“It’s up to me to do the things I need to do to get better,” Jordan said. “It’s up to me to be a relentless player.”
And it’s up to Cameron Wake to help lead the way, to show Jordan every day the price that must be paid to reach the highest of levels. Jordan feeds off this relationship every chance he gets. He understands how fortunate he is to reside right next to Wake’s locker just as Wake was once fortunate to reside next to Jason Taylor.
“Nothing has been given to Wake,” Jordan said. “He has earned everything he has gotten. I want to be the same way, the same type of player.”
The Dolphins would gladly settle for exactly that.
On Friday, AC in the AM takes a look at rookie placekicker Caleb Sturgis.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.