DAVIE—Cameron Malveaux caused so many problems for the Dolphins’ offense when he was on the scout team that they had to see whether he could do it in games. After about seven months in the organization, spending much of that time on the practice squad, Malveaux was called up last week and made his NFL debut against Denver.
He was ready. Malveaux played 32 snaps and got strong reviews on his play from the coaching staff.
“It was a lot easier than it could’ve been, just from the way I always practice,” he said. “That’s why I practice that way, so when that moment came, it wasn’t much of a change.”
He’s in line for a similar workload in Monday night’s game against New England.
Malveaux made a reputation for himself in Davie by going all out in practices and “destroying the offense,” in defensive coordinator Matt Burke’s words. He’s also impressed the Dolphins with his versatility.
At 6-foot-5, 276 pounds, Malveaux has the ability to play defensive end or tackle and he appears to be good against the run. That sounds like 10-year veteran William Hayes, whom the Dolphins placed on Injured Reserve last month.
He had 16 tackles for loss, including 3.5 sacks, in his final two years at the University of Houston. That wasn’t enough to get him drafted, and he signed with the Dolphins as a free agent shortly afterward.
Since then, it’s been a grind. Malveaux went through all of OTAs and training camp with the team, then was cut at the regular-season roster deadline and brought back as a practice squad player. He spent the first 11 games of the season on the sideline.
“You practice all week with the guys and end up not playing in the game, so that part of it sucks,” he said. “You’ve gotta watch the guys you sweat with all week play on the field while you sit there and watch.
“But whenever you’re doing that, you have to know one day you’re gonna be on that field playing, so you’ve gotta prepare every single day like you are. I just kept my head down, kept working and eventually it just happened.”
That’s basically been his approach the entire time. Malveaux never came in thinking he’d make a name for himself with over-the-top aggressive hits or flying all over the place in practice. His mentality was to show the coaches he could consistently do the job well.
“I just wanted to always practice 100 percent because I feel like you practice the way you play, and eventually I knew I would get some kind of opportunity,” he said. “I wanted to be prepared for that, so I had to practice every single day and prepare like I was about to be in the game.
“And every single day, I knew I was going against some high-level NFL players, but at the same time, my best opponent is myself. Every day I set a challenge for myself and set a goal and tried to meet it every day. That’s how I saw progression.”
He seems to be a good student as well, and there are quality teachers in his corner of the locker room. Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake set the tone for that group when it comes to preparation and practice habits, and Malveaux’s been paying attention.
“Ndamkuong Suh is a hardworking guy,” he said. “He’s a professional. That’s the best example for me, mainly from watching him. He might give me some pointers, but he’s a leader by example. He’s definitely a guy I look up to.”
That’s a good starting point for Malveaux, and he’s certainly built a good base as he tries to make it in the NFL. The Dolphins already like what they’ve seen, and if he plays well over the final four games, that could earn him the chance to come back next year.
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