Suspended Miami Dolphins S T.J. McDonald ready to jump in

T.J. McDonald will almost certainly become the starter the second he returns.(Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE—The Dolphins are counting down the days until T.J. McDonald steps in at safety once his NFL suspension concludes. He’s been out the first three games and will miss the next five before returning for Miami’s Nov. 13 game at Carolina.

During his suspension, McDonald is allowed to work out at the facility and attend meetings. He do pretty much everything except for practice. The Dolphins are intent on making this time worth something even if he can’t play, and would theoretically keep him ready to get to work right away once he’s cleared.

“He’s limited in some of the things he can do and he has some other things he has to resolve as he’s going through this process,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said today. “He’s around in meetings—he’s allowed to do that—so when he’s in meetings, we’ve tried to involve him in terms of being an extra set of eyes for us and saying, ‘Hey, look at this cut-up or look at this play or maybe help some of the other safeties out with your evaluation,’ which keeps him involved in what we’re doing and game plan stuff week-to-week.

“It gives him a way to contribute. When he’s available, he’s been around in meetings and just been another set of eyes and a veteran player that’s seen a lot of football that can help some of the other safeties.”

McDonald, 26, and Reshad Jones are the Dolphins’ safeties of the future. While waiting for McDonald, they’ve been starting Nate Allen next to Jones.

Miami signed McDonald to a one-year deal last offseason with the eight-game suspension hanging over him. That made him a bargain acquisition.

Without him ever playing a game, the Dolphins were impressed enough to give him an extension. After this season, he’ll get $24 million through 2021. Jones recently re-upped for five years, $60 million.

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