DAVIE — Akeem Spence wears 93 for the Miami Dolphins, which is the same number Ndamukong Suh wore here and in Detroit, Spence’s last stop.
“I really didn’t want to be 93,” Spence said Tuesday, in his first comments since a trade brought him to south Florida. “But it was the only number available so I just took it.”
Spence actually began his career in Tampa Bay, where another 93 from Suh’s draft class, Gerald McCoy, was similarly dominant. Spence is not Suh and not McCoy. But he is a very serviceable, professional defensive tackle.
And right now, he’s a Dolphins’ starter.
“I’m not a big flashy guy,” Spence said. “I’m a do-my-job type of guy. Control my gap. Make plays when I can… I’m a quick-twitch guy. I get off the ball. Make plays in the backfield. Hold my gap very well. Just being fundamentally sound.”
Spence was excited to be dealt to Miami, because before this season they hired his former defensive line coach, Kris Kocurek.
“He’s all about ball,” Spence said. “He loves ball. Next to his wife, it’s football. So I tell (my teammates) everything he says he means it. He means well. If he’s not yelling at you or cursing at you then he doesn’t care. He’ just trying to get guys better. He cares so much. He wants guys to get a whole bunch of sacks.”
Many Dolphins players have said this spring that Kocurek and defensive coordinator Matt Burke want less read-and-react in 2018 and more attack. What does that mean, anyway?
“The defensive tackles, next to the ends, should be the first two guys off the ball,” Spence said. “Attacking the guards’ shoulders. Knocking them back. So that way your linebackers can play downhill. Everybody can be downhill. Your ends set hard edges, attacking the tackles at the tip of their pads. Setting edges. So that way we’re gap sound. Defensive tackles playing in the backfield. That should show on the film, guys getting knock back. If not Kris is probably somewhere with his hat off, throwing all kind of obscenities.”
Spence said that sometimes he starts practice alongside Jordan Phillips and sometimes Davon Godchaux. Spence said Suh’s 84 percent snap percentage last season was “ridiculous.” With Vincent Taylor and William Hayes likely taking some inside snaps, too, the goal is for their percentages to all be at or less than 50 percent.
“The idea is to have eight or nine starters and just continue to rotate guys in,” Spence said. “That what (Kocurek) believes in. Get a guy for four or five plays and then get a fresh guy in. Hockey lineup type of deal.”
Spence believes Miami’s entire defensive line will benefit from the bookends of Cam Wake and Robert Quinn. And he believes the waves of defensive linemen Miami plans to play will help fill a void left by Suh.
“It’s just about getting better every day,” Spence said. “We know we have to work hard to make up for some guys that we lost. And that’s a challenge we’re willing to take.”