DAVIE — His name wasn’t called during the draft. It isn’t found on the top line of the depth chart and he might not get a front-row seat in the linebackers’ meeting room.
But when crisis develops, the Dolphins find a way to come back to Mike Hull.
More than ever, this is one of those times.
With second-round pick Raekwon McMillan out for the season, the Dolphins are turning once again to Hull as first in line to fill that linebacker slot alongside veterans Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons.
Suddenly, part of the burden to improve the league’s 30th-ranked run defense of last year falls upon a player who has started just one of his 20 career NFL games — but you’d never know that listening to coach Adam Gase.
“He’s always looking for that shot to jump in the starting lineup and somebody’s above him and then he’s got to fill in,” Gase said Saturday. “Last year when we had guys go down and he had to fill in, he did a great job. He’s always ready to go.”
Whatever Hull, 26, lacks in quickness and size (6-feet, 232) he makes up for in preparation, Gase said.
“He makes sure he knows exactly what he’s supposed to do,” Gase said. “He knows everybody else’s job as well.”
Saturday, it became Hull’s job to rotate in with the starters, calling it “a great opportunity” following a summer of working out with linebackers Sean Lee of Dallas and Paul Posluszny of Jacksonville. Between that and times he was called upon to fill in last year, Hull figures he’s ready for the responsibility.
“I’m quick in the box, good in the box,” he said. “I feel like I have a good nose for the football against the run.”
If Hull can just make an impact in that department, it would ease some of the sting of losing McMillan to a knee injury. The Dolphins allowed a club-record 2,247 rushing yards last season.
“That’s something we’ve got to address,” he said.
Although not nearly as well-known as Alonso, Hull had his moments last year. Against the 49ers he made four special teams tackles. In his start against the Cardinals, he recorded eight tackles, an interception and a pass defensed.
Among the significant defensive changes from last season are the arrival of Timmons via free agency and the change to coordinator Matt Burke after Vance Joseph became Denver’s head coach. Interestingly, Hull said players have been picking Timmons’ brain, comparing Miami’s scheme to what he played in Pittsburgh.
“Everyone’s in the meeting room every day bouncing ideas off of one another and seeing how he might have played things differently in Pittsburgh versus how he’s playing it now, and it’s good to have that kind of veteran guy in the room,” Hull said.
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