Dolphins unsure whether new LB Rey Maualuga will be ready for opener

Rey Maualuga will need some time to get in shape. (Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA—It might be a while before the Dolphins can determine whether recent free agent acquisition Rey Maualuga can play for them. They’re still trying to gauge whether he’s fit enough to practice.

Since signing him Sunday to bolster their linebacker corps, they’ve had him do limited work with assistant strength coach Dave Puloka apart from the rest of the team to ascertain his conditioning level. After spending his offseason “swimming, eating, relaxing,” in his words, it’s clear he’s not ready for a game.

“Just keep working on getting in shape and getting his body ready and start getting him out at practice and seeing where he’s at,” coach Adam Gase said when asked what the plan is for Maualuga. “Just trying to figure out will he be ready for the first game, or do we have to wait another week after that? We won’t know until we get going in practice.”

Puloka started him out this week with running, lifting, stretching and modest work along those lines. Maualuga did some conditioning work on the field before tonight’s game against Philadelphia.

One concern for the Dolphins is how long it’ll be before he can handle the South Florida heat, something Gase has mentioned repeatedly this week. Maualuga played the first eight seasons in Cincinnati.

“It’s just gonna be (based on) where he is physically,” Gase said. “Mentally, he knows the defense already. It’s very close to what he ran before, so that shouldn’t be an issue with him.

“We’ve gotta just get him in the best shape we can. He’s a big man, and the temperature’s gonna be pretty hot next week, so we’ve gotta see where he is conditioning-wise.”

The team lists Maualuga at 6-foot-2, 258 pounds, but he said this week he was over 260. He likely needs to drop 10 or more pounds to be in game shape.

If he’s in good enough condition, he’s expected to compete for the third linebacker spot next to Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons. That job would’ve gone to second-round pick Raekwon McMillan, but he tore his ACL in the first preseason game and has been replaced by Mike Hull.

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