PHILADELPHIA — What can Miami Dolphins fans expect from linebacker Rey Maualuga?
“Ever seen Maui from Moana?” Maualuga said. “How crazy he is? Yeaaah. About that.”
Maui is the boisterous demigod of the South Pacific, played in the Disney movie by Dwayne Johnson.
Maualaga watched his new teammates practice on Monday, not yet deemed ready to practice.
“My strengths are coming downhill and taking on the blockers,” Maualuga said. “Stopping the run. And leading by example. You know if I come in and show what I can do on the field then I think everyone will follow and we can just be that much better on defense.”
Maualuga said he weighs more than 260 pounds and would like his playing weight to begin with a two and a five.
What has he been doing to stay in shape?
“Swimming. Eating. Relaxing,” he said.
A comfort level with Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke led to this re-union.
Burke was Maualuga’s position coach in Cincinnati.
“Just to come in and step in right away would be a lot easier to go off of his play book instead of learning something from scratch,” Maualuga said.
Gase said that there is no chance Maualuga will play on Thursday in a preseason game at the Eagles.
“Well, it’s an experienced guy,” Gase said. “We feel like he’s a guy that can help us a lot and we want to make sure when we put him on the field it’s the right time. Anytime we can add an experienced guy like that this late, I think it’s a positive for us.”
When he’s on the field, Maualuga will be in the middle. When he’s flanked by Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons, the Dolphins should be better positioned against the run, if not in coverage.
“I think the middle linebacker sets the tone for everything,” Maualuga said. “It sets the tone for how the other outside linebackers play. And Kiko and Timmons I think will fit in perfect as soon as you know they get someone in there to play the mike and is adjusting well. Hooting and hollering. Things like that.”
At his best, Maualuga is a physical, aggressive, salty downhill run-stopping force.
The Bengals made him a salary-cap casualty. But he is only 30.
“I’m just trying to fill in wherever I can,” Maualuga said. “(The Dolphins) haven’t really said anything. They just said there’s a — umm, I don’t know. Whatever they need me to do to help the team win.”
What Maualuga didn’t say is there’s a void.
It was a void left by the injury to projected staring middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan.
Maualuga needs time, though.
It wasn’t long ago he was hanging out at home, knowing if or when another opportunity would come.
“Cincinnati is somewhat humid but the moment I stepped off the plane I was like, ‘Holy, gosh, what did I get myself into?” Maualuga said.
It’s going to take some time.
But the Dolphins feel, in time, Maualuga can fill an important void.
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