DAVIE — It’s early in the fourth quarter in Atlanta and the Dolphins are trailing the Falcons by three.
Matt Ryan hands the ball to Devonta Freeman and here comes Jordan Phillips, a 6-feet-6, 333-pound defensive tackle.
Phillips tosses aside a Falcons left guard as if he was a trash can on wheels, corrals Freeman by the legs and stops the running back for no gain, as Andre Branch swoops in to finish off the play.
Phillips begins pumping his arms and pounding his chest, as he should.
Because after two seasons of mostly underachieving, Phillips seems ready to dominate.
“I see a guy who every snap he’s out there, he’s playing hard,” Miami coach Adam Gase said Wednesday. “It was really impressive last week to see – in that second half, especially. He made two or three plays right in a row.”
Phillips has made an impact on two Miami victories, including the opener at the Los Angeles Chargers.
Though the Dolphins have outstanding depth along the defensive line, they missed him as he sat out three games with an ankle injury.
“I think he’s in the right path and the right mindset, more or less, than anything,” said Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, a mentor. “A man focused on what he needs to do and get focused on where he needs to be. I think understanding, just like all of the other guys, asking questions, talking about the game and (I’ve been) seeing from that mindset, he’s grown from being a rookie, where he’s just focused on what he needs to get done.”
If Phillips demonstrates consistent passion and aggression, Miami’s front seven should be utterly devastating.
“It’s just good to have him back out there – a guy that size with that kind of movement skills and to see how excited he is to be back out there,” Gase said. “He has been doing it really since that Philly week. He has just been doing such a good job of practice day in and day out, everything has been consistent. He’s just doing everything right, and it’s showing up on game day. For him to go back out there – his first game back out there – and play as well as he did, that was a good thing for us.”
Perhaps the best part of the story is this: Phillips said Wednesday he’s not satisfied.
“I can play better,” Phillips said. “I can do more. I made a few plays, but I missed some, too. I can do more.”
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