In just 1 1/2 weeks, Bacarri Rambo had gained enough confidence in the Dolphins’ coaching staff that they had him on the field more often than not.
In a month, he has gone from straight off the street to starting at safety for the Miami Dolphins.
Part of it, of course, is need because Reshad Jones is out for the season. Part of it, he says, is the kind of hunger only a player out of a job would know.
But there’s more.
“Why do you think I wear a 7 5/8 in hats?” he said. “Because I’ve got a big brain and I absorb a lot of information.”
It’s a funny quip, but Rambo made the point for more than a laugh. He’s serious about this brain business.
“I made dean’s list my freshman year,” Rambo said of his high school days. “The good dean’s list. I was real good in math. I was on the math decathlon team.”
Algebra I & II, geometry, calculus — Rambo says he conquered them all. So if math is as easy as pi to this guy, how hard can Cover-2 be?
“I feel like I was bred to play football because that’s all I know,” Rambo said.
Rambo was a sixth-round pick of Washington in 2011, entering the draft early after playing for Mark Richt at Georgia, where he was teammates with Jones. He split time between Washington and Buffalo, appearing in 32 games, but found himself recovering from a torn meniscus in January. Just when he was kicking around working for a car dealership, the Dolphins called with a deal of their own.
And just like that, 11 days after signing, he was playing 35 snaps (60 percent of the defensive plays) against the Jets. Against the Rams, it was upped to 41 snaps, or 66 percent, and he responded with five total tackles. Then came Sunday’s 49ers game, when Rambo was elevated to starter, played 50 snaps (64 percent) and tied for second on the team with seven total tackles. He’s also on special teams.
“I feel like I’ve done OK,” he said.
Rambo doesn’t hide the fact he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder.
“I just want to prove to everybody that should have gave me a chance,” he said. “It just drove me to go out and show them they made a huge mistake by signing me and letting me be in the position I was so long. But the Dolphins and the organization gave me a chance. I’m very grateful for that.”
Rambo said that between studying the playbook and hearing advice from Jones on the sidelines, the adjustment has been smooth. He said he thrives on getting thrown out there in pressure situations.
“It gets you more respect,” he said. “It makes people notice your name more.”
As if the name RAMBO on his jersey blends in.
“It just makes it easier,” said the former free agent making a name for himself.