Miami Dolphins rookie defensive backs working to ditch nicknames

Cornell “Big Country” Armstrong would like to get back to his regular name as soon as he can. (AP)

DAVIE — Now that hazing has been legislated out of football, teams are finding creative, relatively harmless ways to make rookies prove themselves to their veteran co-workers.

For the Dolphins’ defensive backs, this means they’ve been saddled with corny nicknames until they earn the right to be called what they want. Miami’s corners and safeties all have cool names like G5 (Reshad Jones), X (Xavien Howard) and Tank (Cordrea Tankersley), so this is an ongoing thing in that corner of the locker room.

Sixth-round pick Cornell Armstrong, a cornerback, goes by Big Country — a moniker worn not-so-prestigiously by former Vancouver Grizzlies center Bryant Reeves — because position coach Tony Oden thinks the way he talks is a little backwoods.

“He detected the accent,” Armstrong said. “They tell me I talk too fast. Sometimes I’ve gotta slow down. If you hear me say, ‘Bassf’ldmississippi,’ they don’t understand. I have to break it down as ‘Bass-field.’”

Big Country isn’t the worst thing to be called, but Armstrong usually goes by ‘C-Nell’ and would like to get that back as soon as possible.

First-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, from Alabama, is called Tide. Regarding the undrafted cornerbacks, Jalen Davis is Surfer and Johnathan Alston is Snoop.

“I’m not sure if they don’t like them or anything, but I know Jalen Davis, his nickname is Surfer because he’s from San Diego and Coach says he likes to surf, I guess,” Armstrong said. “Johnathan Alston, we call him Snoop because of his dreads and long hair. What do we call Mink? We really just call him Tide.”

The rookies are heading into their final offseason practice Thursday as the Dolphins wrap up Organized Team Activities. They will return for training camp a week ahead of the veterans next month for one more crash course before things get decidedly more serious.

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