DAVIE — Raekwon McMillan is one of those rare NFL players who didn’t participate in a single snap last year but isn’t in his first pro season this year. So if he’s not a veteran and not a rookie, where does that leave him?
“Whatever you want to call it,” he joked of how he’d label this year. He settled on calling it “my rookie-and-a-half” season.
The problem is the Dolphins can’t afford to treat him like a rookie, nor can he afford to act like one. He’s the starting middle linebacker, the guy listening to coordinator Matt Burke’s instructions in his helmet, the guy calling signals to the other 10 defenders.
The leader. “The quarterback of the defense,” he said.
“It all comes with confidence and knowing what I’m doing, being able to tell guys what they’re doing around me,” he said.
When McMillan injured his knee on his first pro play in preseason in 2017, he didn’t use it to take a year off. He spent it exercising his mind — learning the defense — since he couldn’t do much to exercise his body. The test will come when others look to him for direction.
“And when they ask, have a definite answer,” McMillan said. “Not like ‘Oh, I don’t know. Let me go ask coach.’ When they come to me as the Mike linebacker, I need to know.
“A leader isn’t just a title that you get because you’re the Mike linebacker. Leader is a title that you get because you put in the work, day in and day out, during the offseason and leading up until now.”
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