Miami Dolphins expect S T.J. McDonald to contribute immediately

The Dolphins are adding a heavy hitter in safety T.J. McDonald. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE—The Dolphins have waited long enough for T.J. McDonald, and he’ll almost certainly take over in the starting lineup this week.

McDonald missed the first eight games because of an NFL suspension after being arrested in 2016 for crashing his car while driving under the influence of prescription drugs and is eligible to be fully reinstated to the roster immediately. He is available to play Monday at Carolina, and coach Adam Gase has no doubt he’s ready to be a factor at safety.

“Run across the middle and you’ll find out,” he said this afternoon. “I think he’s pretty ready. I want him to play. I can’t wait to watch him play.”

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The Dolphins signed McDonald, 26, to a one-year deal in the spring knowing he was in line for a suspension. They set strict parameters for him when it came to on-field training demands and off-field conduct, and he impressed them so much in his first few months with the organization that they gave him a four-year, $24 million extension before the season began.

As part of his suspension, McDonald has been barred from playing, practicing and speaking to the media since the end of the preseason. He practiced throughout the preseason and appeared in three preseason games.

Once the suspension kicked in, he remained fully engaged in film study and meetings. He was also allowed to train at the facility, meaning the staff has been able to track his conditioning. There should be nothing hindering him from stepping right in alongside Reshad Jones this week.

“It’s not like he’s coming back from an injury, so we can put him into practice on Wednesday,” Gase said. “I expect him to be out there ready to go. He’s been chomping at the bit for a while now.”

McDonald was a starter for the Rams the last four seasons. His best year was 2014, when he had 105 tackles, seven passes defensed, a fumble recovery and an interception. Last season, he had 62 tackles and six passes defensed as Pro Football Focus ranked him the No. 58 safety in the league.

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