Miami Dolphins’ Minkah Fitzpatrick: Goal is ‘legendary player in the NFL’

Minkah Fitzpatrick meets the Dolphins media. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Minkah Fitzpatrick was talking about what it will mean to him to purchase a home for his parents, considering his family once lost a home to Hurricane Irene.

“It’s going to be their home,” Fitzpatrick said Friday, on his first day reporting as a Dolphins defensive back. “That can’t be taken away from them.”

Fitzpatrick will take you through some of the challenges he faced as a youngster. And how it helped mold him as a person and a player.

[Photos: Miami Dolphins rookies report to minicamp]

But Fitzpatrick wants to make this clear, too — in no way does he feel he’s arrived.

“Being in the NFL isn’t the end goal,” Fitzpatrick said. “I want to be a great player in the NFL. A legendary player in the NFL. So I have made it to this point in the journey but there is a whole lot more left to go.”

That is the mindset that has brought Fitzpatrick to this point. He is one of Nick Saban’s favorite all-time Alabama players, to the extent that Saban would go on and on and on about his adoration for the player.

“I’ve just got to live up to his compliments,” Fitzpatrick said. “I can’t let it get to my head.”

Fitzpatrick played six positions at Alabama. And he’s already been told what two positions to expect to focus on in Miami.

“Just going to start off and keep learning the defensive backfield, whether it’s at the the nickel spot or the safety spot,” Fitzpatrick said. “In there just making calls. Making sure I’m learning the defense.”

But what position does he most consider home?

“On the football field,” Fitzpatrick said, with a smile. “That’s it.”

Fitzpatrick played as a freshman at Alabama. He feels Miami’s defense isn’t much different.

“It’s not too much different,” he said. “It’s almost the same exact defense a couple of wrinkles, here or there. Just the terminology is different. But football is football. Just learning by doing it. Process concepts and not just trying to memorize things.”

One of the reasons Fitzpatrick flourished at Alabama was that he spent so much time studying film, even in the hours before a game.

“I’ll either watch in the hotel room on my Ipad,” Fitzpatrick said. “Or I’ll go in before meetings and just watch film in the meeting rooms. Go over formations and plays. I just thought it was something everybody did. You always have to do extra. There is no extraordinary, without extra.”

In his first press conference as a Dolphin, Fitzpatrick spoke with pride about working for his father at the age of 14. His father was a mechanic. And did some construction. And some plumbing.

“A couple other jobs not every other 14 year old is doing,” he said. “They’re usually playing in the backyard. While I was out working till 12 o’clock at night. It was just instilled in me. I knew I had to help my family out, help my parents out.”

Now that he’s in the NFL, Fitzpatrick believes all the time he’s spent studying players like Eric Berry, Kam Chancellor and Malcolm Jenkins will pay dividends. So too, he says, will working alongside veteran safeties Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald.

“I can go to them about anything,” Fitzpatrick said. “I can ask them about on and off the field stuff. Really just staying underneath their wing and growing underneath them.”

Fitzpatrick said coach Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Matt Burke told him “be yourself.”

What does that mean?

“Do what you’ve got to do to become your best self,” Fitzpatrick said. “Push myself and challenge myself in the ways that I usually do. By doing that it’s going to better the people around me, because they’re going to do the same thing. So just do what I have to do to be the best possible version of myself. Just do my job. That’s it. When you do your job, you make plays.”

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