Is T.J. McDonald the Miami Dolphins’ Gronk Kryptonite?

T.J. McDonald of the Miami Dolphins looks on before the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. McDonald should start Monday at Carolina. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

DAVIE — T.J. McDonald hasn’t covered Rob Gronkowski before, as the Patriots tight end was placed on injured reserve with a back injury the day before a Rams meeting last December.

But McDonald has regularly covered tight ends throughout his career. And the Dolphins have regularly been destroyed by opposing tight ends like Gronkowski (who they’ll face twice this winter).

Could McDonald, the safety now coming off an 8-game suspension, be Gronk Kryptonite?

“I’ve heard all about Gronk and I know he’s a beast,” McDonald said Thursday. “With the Rams, covering tight ends? That’s all I did. Whenever there was a tight end, I was covering him, whether it was Vernon Davis in San Francisco, or Jimmy Graham in Seattle. But yeah. I’ve done that. I can do that.”

The Dolphins have already faced the tight ends ranked fourth, fifth, sixth and 10th in the NFL (Jared Cook of Oakland, Ben Watson of Baltimore, Delanie Walker of Tennessee and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.)

Last week, Cook had eight catches for 126 yards.

Still on Miami’s schedule: Gronkowski (8th in the NFL in tight end catches), Travis Kelce (first), Cameron Brate (12th) and recently-signed Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett (18th).

Plenty of players for McDonald to study.

The meshing of McDonald and Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones should be fascinating.

Both players are physical and aggressive and could at some also point could also best be described as strong safeties.

It’s up to defensive coordinator Matt Burke to execute the plan on a week-to-week basis, capitalizing on his safeties’ strengths while also trying to neutralize opponents’ strengths and exploit their weaknesses.

[RELATED STORY: Miami Dolphins’ T.J. McDonald on locking in on targets; beef with OBJ]

“We’re welcome to do whatever they ask us to do,” McDonald said. “Whatever coach Burke asks us to do, I feel like we’re both capable to play deep, play in the box, whatever they want us to do – come blitz. It helps us be able to show different looks because you never know which one’s down, which one’s back. We’ll be able to come out here and do some different things.”

During the suspension, McDonald was unable to practice but was able to attend meetings and work out. He watched games at his house with injured cornerback Tony Lippett.

“It’s been humbling,” McDonald said. “It’s been tough to sit back and watch, but I’ve been doing what I can to be here for my teammates and it’s definitely made me appreciate the game. I’ve done everything I can to get back right and being around this building, being around these guys, has kept me going and kept me pushing.”

[RELATED STORY: VIDEOS: T.J. McDonald, who returns for Miami Dolphins today, delivers violent hits]

The Dolphins think McDonald can run fast, cover with range and be an intimidating enforcer.

McDonald can’t get to get his first big hit of 2017.

““I definitely want my presence felt,” he said. “That’s what I love about the game. I want to make those pads pop and that’s what I’m going to do on Monday.”

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