DAVIE — Ndamukong Suh didn’t just play well as a Miami Dolphin. He played an incredible number of snaps.
Suh played 84 percent of snaps for the Dolphins last season, unheard of for a defensive tackle. With Suh cut for salary reasons and off to the Los Angeles Rams, somebody is going to have to play a lot more.
“I don’t think snap count has an effect with anything,” defensive tackle Jordan Phillips said on Thursday. “I played 30 to 40 snaps last year, as well.”
As a rookie, Davon Godchaux was second among Miami defensive tackles with 48 percent of snaps. Phillips was third with 38 percent. And Vincent Taylor was fourth with 18 percent.
Phillips is sensitive to criticism. Since his arrival from Oklahoma in the 2015 NFL Draft, he’s faced questions about if he can even live up to his second-round draft status and if he can perform at a high level with increased snaps. Before last season, Phillips openly discussed how he had discovered some tricks to stay more motivated snap-to-snap.
Does Phillips expect more snaps in 2018?
“I couldn’t tell you,” Phillips said. “I mean if that’s the message you guys got, then roll with it I guess.”
Phillips’ tackle total decreased from 23 to 16 last season. He showed a few flashes of greatness but also inconsistency.
“I mean my production wasn’t what I wanted it to be,” he said. “The good games I played, I still did really well. So, I’ve got to keep it moving forward.”
Phillips and Godchaux figure to rotate with free agent addition Akeem Spence and Taylor, with William Hayes also taking some snaps on the interior.
“We’ve got some young players in there with Jordan (Phillips) and Davon (Godchaux) that we’re expecting to make leaps from,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase believes first-year defensive line coach Kris Kocurek will have a positive impact.
“He’s going to get those guys better,” Gase said. “That’s all he has ever done in his career. He has taken guys that sometimes when you watch some of his past film, some of those guys that you’re not really sure who they are, but they’re playing hard, they’re getting to the ball, they’re harassing the quarterback. He gets guys better.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Phillips had his best season in 2017. Phillips was graded 43.3 as a rookie, then 74.9 and 75.5 in the next two seasons. But Phillips was PFF’s 74th-rated interior defender, and he was graded particularly harshly against the run last year.
With Suh gone, Phillips needs to be right more often in his run-stop gap responsibilities.
“It’s hard to replace a man like Suh, but we don’t have an option to do it,” Phillips said. “It needs to get done, so we’re going to do what it takes to get (it done).”
Phillips is an unrestricted free agent after this season. Miami can only hope that provides extra motivation.
“I can’t speak for everybody else,” Phillips said. “I know what I’m intending to do this year. That’s all I’m focused on. Be the best player I can be.”