Miami Dolphins: The return of Reshad Jones should be celebrated, not overlooked

Reshad Jones’ return has been a bit underplayed, in one man’s opinion. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

OXNARD, Calif. — It appears Reshad Jones made five tackles in four preseason games, but of course, the Miami Dolphins safety hasn’t made a tackle that matters in 11 months, an October contest against Pittsburgh.

Since then, Jones has agreed to a 5-year, $60 million contract extension.

Since then, Jones has had rotator cuff surgery to repair a tear in his left shoulder.

It seems to me that Jones’ return to Miami’s defense has been an under-the-radar storyline this entire preseason.

It seems to me that it was too easy to forget something I had written last season — that through six games, Jones was not just a very good player, but Miami’s best player.

“Nothing should be said about my return,” Jones told me after practice on Wednesday. “There are great players on this team. We’ve got a great staff. We’ve just got to win some football games. I just want to continue to come out and do what I’ve been doing. I’m just here to do what I’ve been doing for this football team for eight years. Be consistent. Make plays.”

There is so much attention and focus paid to how much Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake are paid and if Jordan Phillips will ever reach his potential and if the good Byron Maxwell will please stand up, that Jones is somehow, too often, still, overshadowed.

Jones is a player who can change the course of any game with one play, one of the rare Dolphins defenders who is capable of making a thrilling, dynamic, athletic, sometimes unplanned, instinctual, ball-hawking, behind the line of scrimmage, turnover-inducing momentum-changer.

And this should not be forgotten, for in the preseason, Miami’s defense still seemed capable of bending, if not always breaking, under new first-year defensive coordinator Matt Burke.

For the record, will the transition from Vance Joseph to Burke bring with it any wrinkles, tweaks or novelties?

“Nah, not really man,” Jones said. “The same.”

If Jones can be the same Jones he has been throughout his career, he’s the type of impact player who could win the Dolphins a game or two on his own.

One thing Jones said on Wednesday, that sticks with me, however, is the idea that his shoulder surgery was not at all easy to rehabilitate from, and that he still hasn’t, to an extent, completed the entire course to perfect health.

“It’s a long process,” Jones said. “With the shoulder. I have to keep working it. It’s a long process with the shoulder. It’s one of the worst surgeries you can have, pretty much. So it’s an ongoing process. I’m still working every day to keep it strong, and keep it good, but you know, doc felt real good about it, it’s stable and everything like that. So I mean I haven’t really been thinking about it.”

Miami needs Jones to be a sure tackler.

Miami made the playoffs last season despite a woeful effort in the area of run defense.

There is the belief that Jones can make an impact in that area. After all, he is one of the Dolphins most capable of tackling an opposing running back for loss, something that did not happen frequently enough last season.

I mentioned to Jones, 29, that while I felt his contract extension was well deserved, some will wonder if he can live up the terms of the agreement. Jones is extremely confident, but he downplayed any notion of additional pressure.

“I don’t worry about that,” said Jones, whose contract will contain an average annual salary trailing only safeties Eric Berry and Tyrann Mathieu. “Only guys I have to worry about are the guys in my locker room and the staff. I have to play consistent. It’s not living up to anything. Like you said, it was well deserved. The team felt like it was the best thing for me and the team. All I’ve got to do is continue to go out and do what I’m doing.”

Last season, Dolphins coach Adam Gase said of Jones: “I wish all our guys played with as much effort and heart as that guy plays.”

Last season, Jones told me his life philosophy is simple: “Kill the man with the ball.”

Miami needs Jones to make a major impact this season. The Dolphins need Jones to show as much effort and heart as he ever has. Miami needs Jones to kill the man with the ball.

Jones’ return to the NFL’s regular season was delayed a week due to Hurricane Irma.

“We’ve got a good plan for these guys,” Jones said of the Los Angeles Chargers.

But do the Chargers have a good plan for Jones?

He’s one of the players on Miami’s defense that a quarterback, and an offensive coordinator, must account for.

Jones’ return to Miami’s defense surely hasn’t gone unnoticed by them.

“I’m excited,” Jones said about Sunday’s game. “I haven’t played in a game for a while. I’m pretty pumped, actually.”

Jay Cutler: Miami Dolphins offense a little bit rusty

Miami Dolphins’ Kenny Stills frustrated more NFL players aren’t supporting Colin Kaepernick

Adam Gase scouted future opponents during unexpected Week 1 bye

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pledges $1 million to hurricane relief

What’s next for Miami Dolphins after Hurricane Irma?

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Jay Cutler: Miami Dolphins offense a little bit rusty

Jay Cutler says, heck yeah, this may take some time. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

OXNARD, Calif. — Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler said Wednesday’s practice was not sharp for the offense.

“I think most of the guys got here either Sunday or Monday and that was kind of the day to start kind of prepping that our bye week is over and we’ve got to get football going,” Cutler said. “I mean we were a little bit rusty today since we haven’t practiced. We got a little bit going yesterday, but I’m sure that as the week goes on, we’ll get back into it.”

Cutler hasn’t played since an Aug. 24 preseason game, nearly three weeks ago.

After missing organized team activities and the early portion of training camp, and now having his Dolphins’ debut delayed has been the strangest start to a season Cutler has ever experienced.

“Oh, it’s not even close,” Cutler said. “I mean, to come into camp halfway through training camp and then have to evacuate and come here and miss … having the first game cancelled. It’s been a wild ride.”

If there is one benefit to the delay, having more than a week together in California should help Cutler continue to bond with teammates.

“I mean it’s like training camp essentially,” Cutler said. “That’s kind of what our mindset is. Everyone is together. We meet together. We eat together. There’s nowhere for anyone really to go. So it’s a good experience for us.”

Cutler, who seems candid and direct, admitted it might take some time for Miami’s offense to crank up.

 “We might not,” Cutler said. “I mean we don’t know how it’s going to go. We’re going to practice as hard as we can. We’re going to prepare as much as we can; but like any game, like any NFL season, there’s going to be some ups and downs out there and these guys are … It’s a resilient group, so we’ll just battle through them.”

Miami Dolphins’ Kenny Stills frustrated more NFL players aren’t supporting Colin Kaepernick

Adam Gase scouted future opponents during unexpected Week 1 bye

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pledges $1 million to hurricane relief

What’s next for Miami Dolphins after Hurricane Irma?

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Miami Dolphins’ Kenny Stills frustrated more NFL players aren’t supporting Colin Kaepernick

Kenny Stills isn’t going to stop speaking his mind. (Bill Ingram/The Post)

OXNARD, Calif. — Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills is frustrated more NFL players are not supporting quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Stills took to Twitter this week to ask athletes why, and the lack of response only added to his exasperation.

“I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” Stills said Wednesday, after Dolphins’ practice. “Just, I feel like the league is majority African American and you would think more people would come to have one of our guys’ back. We talk about the NFL being a brotherhood and they give us this presentation every year about the NFL being a brotherhood and when something wrong is going on to one of your brothers I feel like we should be there to have his back and to speak up for him.”

Kaepernick, who like Stills, kneeled during the national anthem before games last season, has not found work this season.

Here are some of Stills’ Tweets from Tuesday:

“Why aren’t more players speaking up or protesting? Do you not believe there’s a problem? Do you not believe you can create change?”

“Are you worried about sponsors or your contract? Do you not care?”

“Why hasn’t the league ever released a statement condemning the unarmed shootings of our people? The league could’ve easily written a positive narrative about Kap and what he started. They chose to stay neutral. Why is that?”

“How can we expect the league to care about something we’re not showing we care about?”

Stills said he wants to learn more about why players aren’t speaking out.

“That’s a question that I asked and I got a lot of feedback from people,” Stills said. “I haven’t really had much time to look at it, but it’s something I will look into. And I mean I’m curious as to why. I was really hoping to reach more players. I don’t think many players wrote me back or responded. So that was really what that was for. Just hollering at the players. Seeing where their minds were at.”

Stills said he has engaged Seahawks’ defensive lineman Michael Bennett about social issues.

“We’ve talked through text message,” Stills said. “We’re all just trying to be here for each other. I feel like the narrative is kind of going to the wrong way sometimes. Just to have each others’ back and support each other and you know I’m really happy to see the things that he’s doing. I was kind of at a loss for words hearing what happened to him after the Mayweather fight. So just continuing to reach out to guys and letting them know we have their back. And the NFL is actually a brotherhood like we talked about.”

Stills has thought about if he should kneel again during national anthems, as he did last season.

“It’s definitely something that I’ve thought about but I continue to think that the protest has been really divisive,” Stills said. “And I’m trying to do everything I can do to get everyone on the same page. It’s  something I’ve definitely thought about. I really want to bring people together. I’m open to having conversations with people and trying to get them on the same page.

Should players use their voices more?

Obviously Stills feels the answer is yes.

“I haven’t been too shy about saying anything,”  So I’ll continue to speak my mind.

Adam Gase scouted future opponents during unexpected Week 1 bye

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pledges $1 million to hurricane relief

What’s next for Miami Dolphins after Hurricane Irma?

7 Miami Dolphins we can’t wait to see play next weekend against the Chargers

If Miami Dolphins struggle this season, tons of reasonable excuses

Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris is locked in and ‘ready to rock and roll’

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Adam Gase scouted future opponents during unexpected Week 1 bye

Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

OXNARD, Calif. — There are few positives to the Miami Dolphins having their bye on the first week of the NFL season, but coach Adam Gase may have found one.

Gase was able to watch a handful of future opponents last Thursday, Sunday and Monday.

“It’s interesting,” Gase said on Tuesday, prior to a Dolphins practice. “Usually on the bye week you watch a little bit, but you almost avoid it a little bit. You’d rather not watch it sometimes. We hadn’t played a game yet. You’re watching guys that you worked with before, friends of yours to see how their season’s gonna start off. That was interesting to kind of be a spectator of that this week.”

On Thursday, Gase was able to take in the Patriots’ 42-27 loss to the Chiefs.

Miami will face the Patriots on Nov. 26 and Dec. 11.

On Sunday, Gase was able to watch the Bills beat the Jets (Miami will face those teams twice apiece).

Gase was also able to see the Ravens beat Bengals and the Panthers top the 49ers.

Perhaps most helpful, the Dolphins were able to watch three future opponents on Monday night.

The Vikings topped the Saints and the Broncos beat the Chargers.

Of course, the Los Angeles Chargers are now facing the Dolphins on a short week. And Miami will have a seeming advantage in being able to watch some actual film, while they haven’t played.

“Seeing those guys really in action and watching their defense and seeing them fly around in a different scheme, it’s really just a carryover of what we saw in preseason,” Gase said of the Chargers’ defense. “They’re always gonna have something different each week. Watching their offense, you see how explosive they can be. Myself being in this division before, this doesn’t look far off from what I’ve seen in the past. Between (Joey) Bosa and (Melvin) Ingram, they’ve really got it going right now.”

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pledges $1 million to hurricane relief

What’s next for Miami Dolphins after Hurricane Irma?

7 Miami Dolphins we can’t wait to see play next weekend against the Chargers

If Miami Dolphins struggle this season, tons of reasonable excuses

Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris is locked in and ‘ready to rock and roll’

Get our content right to your Facebook page with The Daily Dolphin


Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pledges $1 million to hurricane relief

Stephen Ross  is making an important donation after Hurricane Irma. (Melanie Bell/PBDN)

OXNARD, Calif. — Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pledged $1 million to immediate and long-term rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“The devastation throughout Florida was heartbreaking, but I was inspired by the resilience and spirit of our state to help rebuild,” Ross said in a statement. “Our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by Hurricane Irma and we are committed to helping in long term recovery efforts.”

The organization is also helping to provide volunteers through the Miami Dolphins Special Teams powered by AARP Foundation. The volunteers are to be deployed in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

In addition, the Dolphins have partnered with AARP Foundation on a dollar for dollar matching campaign, with 100 percent of the money raised going directly into the community. Created to support the victims of the hurricane, especially those who are low-income and age 50-plus, these donations collected through the disaster relief fund will impact those in need.

Lastly, the team will assess long-term damage and collaborate with local and regional community partners involved with critical relief and rebuilding efforts in Monroe and Collier counties along with the Florida Keys.

What’s next for Miami Dolphins after Hurricane Irma?

7 Miami Dolphins we can’t wait to see play next weekend against the Chargers

If Miami Dolphins struggle this season, tons of reasonable excuses

Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris is locked in and ‘ready to rock and roll’

Get our content right to your Facebook page with The Daily Dolphin

What’s next for Miami Dolphins after Hurricane Irma?

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Leonte Carroo (88) drops a pass during Miami Dolphins minicamp at Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida on June 14, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Owner Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins asked the NFL if it could move the Oct. 1 London game against the New Orleans Saints to Miami, but the league said no, according to a league source.

The Dolphins’ season-opener this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was pushed back to Nov. 19 with Hurricane Irma bearing down on South Florida. And now, in a worst-case scenario, Miami could be on the road without a return to South Florida for three straight weeks.

Miami left South Florida in advance of Hurricane Irma and took players, coaches, staff and their families to Oxnard, Calif., where the team will meet on Tuesday and practice Wednesday.

The Dolphins hope to return to South Florida to practice in advance of their game at the New York Jets on Sept. 24. The Dolphins have arranged a contingency plan — practicing in West Virginia — if it is not possible to return to South Florida after the game, a source confirmed.

Miami is also assessing any damage at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens and the team’s practice facility in Davie, a source confirmed. There was tornado activity in the vicinity of the stadium, and so a proper assessment must take place.

The Dolphins are scheduled to play at the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in Carson, Calif., followed by the Jets and the Saints in London, a brutal stretch. Miami is not scheduled to play again at Hard Rock Stadium until Oct. 8 against the Tennessee Titans.

>>Hurricane Irma: Follow the latest headlines

>>Hurricane Irma: Download the PostNOW app and stay connected during the storm

7 Miami Dolphins we can’t wait to see play next weekend against the Chargers

Hurricane Irma has us all on edge.

There are some things bigger than even the NFL. And the safety of the residents of South Florida is clearly one of them.

>>Hurricane Irma: Get the latest news and information on the storm

While we wait to see the exact track Irma takes, many Dolphins players, coaches and staff members have already landed in California to begin preparations for the Los Angeles Chargers. Here are seven Dolphins we can’t wait to see take the field at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., next weekend:

1) Jay Cutler – Cutler and coach Adam Gase felt they were ready for the season to open at home against the Tampa Bay Bucs. We suppose an extra week of studying and practice can’t hurt. Cutler has shown excellent arm strength and a willingness to take chances. How patient will he be when the lights are brighter? Cutler figures to see a fair share of 1-on-1 downfield opportunities against the Chargers.

2) DeVante Parker – Parker has been utterly dominant in organized team activities, training camp and the preseason. There is every reason to believe Parker will be Cutler’s favorite target. The Chargers have decent corners but nobody than should be able to beat Parker downfield 1-on-1. Parker led Miami with eight targets and 103 receiving yards at the Chargers last season. This season opener is an opportunity for Parker to set the tone for an entire season. Is he really ready to blossom into an NFL star?

3) Charles Harris – It was a quiet preseason for the rookie defensive end, after some impressive showings without pads. It may take some time for the underweight Harris to learn some of the savvy tricks that, for example, have allowed veteran Cam Wake to overcome his lack of size. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has been under pressure pretty much most of the time, for years. After going the entire preseason with a sack, Harris should have a decent shot at his first career sack in his debut.

4) Lawrence Timmons – Timmons seems to have enough left in the tank to help Miami address some run defense shenanigans. Timmons plays tough and without fear and could also be a weapon for defensive coordinator Matt Burke on run and pass blitzes. The loss of rookie middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan for the season only amplifies the importance of Timmons, especially when facing a back as talented as Melvin Gordon. The Chargers turned it over a ton last season. And Miami has an emphasis on increased turnovers, something Timmons can impact.

5) Ja’Wuan James – Ja’Wuan, block Joey Bosa. James has been battling through a shoulder injury and as he manages the pain he hopes his performance against powerful speed rushers like Bosa (10.5 sacks as a rookie) is not diminished. The Chargers will bring Bosa and Melvin Ingram (one sack vs. Miami last season) from the edges, so how James and Laremy Tunsil handle those two will be critical. The Dolphins believe James has more to offer than he’s shown.

6) Jay Ajayi – Ajayi averaged 4.2 yards on 19 carries against the Chargers last season. The Dolphins want a more consistent overall rushing attack this season. Ajayi, who had an excellent camp, wants to be more involved in the passing game. Ajayi’ motivation would figure to be that three 200-yard rushing games last season were not a fluke. The presence of center Mike Pouncey in this game should be a big positive. Pouncey’s final game last season was against the Chargers.

7) Rey Maualuga – By the time Maualuga takes the field at Los Angeles, he will have had four weeks to prepare. If there was any question that Maualuga would be ready to play against Tampa, that concern should be alleviated by an extra week of conditioning. Expect Mike Hull and Rey Maualuga to split 30-40 reps at the start of the season. Miami is hoping Maualuga can provide a downhill, thumping presence and can be inserted into the game in those moments (they were all too common in 2016) when an opposing running back is trampling them behind a gashing offensive line.

Miami Dolphins’ Leonte Carroo recalls impact of Hurricane Sandy

Leonte Carroo has been through at least one Superstorm in his young life. (Getty Images)

DAVIE — Miami Dolphins wide receiver Leonte Carroo was directly affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, a storm that did severe damage to New York and New Jersey, where he lived.

Carroo was a wide receiver at Rutgers in New Jersey.

“It was a pretty horrific hurricane,” Carroo recalled. “A lot of wind. A lot of rain. It really affected New Jersey. It was the first time New Jersey experienced anything like that. It was a pretty sad event.”

Carroo said his parents’ home sustained damage. A neighbor had a tree fall on their home. Nobody in his neighborhood had power for a week. The Rutgers dorms didn’t have power for a week. The Rutgers buildings didn’t have power.

The players missed four days of practice, and had to find a creative way to work out.

Carroo recalled the players lifted weights in a room with no power, lit by lamps running off generators.

Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive storm of 2012.

New York and the surrounding metropolitan area sustained significant flooding.

Carroo recalled that the Rutgers players, despite many having damage to their own homes, visited displaced residents in shelters.

“We hung out with these little kids at a gymnasium,” Carroo said. “We hung out with them for a few days. Just play video games and basketball with them. Some football. They really appreciated it. Some of those areas were really badly damaged.”

Carroo wasn’t sure what he was in for with Hurricane Irma.

A few lockers away, Dolphins wide receiver Malcolm Lewis, a standout at the University of Miami whose family lives in Miami Gardens, said he wasn’t worried.

“We don’t leave,” Lewis said. “We board up and ride it out.”

Said Carroo: “Right now I have no idea what the hurricane is going to be like but I’m up on the fourth floor so I should be all right. I’m just praying for those who don’t have a place to stay.”

If Miami Dolphins struggle this season, tons of reasonable excuses

Breaking: NFL moves Miami Dolphins’ game vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Nov. 19

Miami Dolphins LB Mike Hull fighting to keep hold on starting spot

Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris is locked in and ‘ready to rock and roll’

If Miami Dolphins struggle this season, tons of reasonable excuses

This Sept. 5, 2017 satellite image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. Irma roared into the Caribbean with record force early Wednesday, its winds shaking homes and flooding buildings on a chain of small islands along a path toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and a possible direct hit on South Florida. (NASA via AP)

DAVIE — When Adam Gase’s news conference opened on Tuesday afternoon, he was asked 18 consecutive questions about Hurricane Irma.

Gase didn’t have any answers. And of course, that was not his fault.

Gase isn’t going to want to hear this, but if the Miami Dolphins win four or five or six games this season, it’s going to be said and written that it wasn’t Gase’s fault.

Oh, there may be some blame about a decision to punt instead of going for it on fourth down, or about why Gase started a certain journeyman guard over another, but before his second season has even kicked off, Gase has been dealt a series of truly unlucky hands.

Some thought it was unfair that the Dolphins opened last season on the road at Seattle and New England, two perennial juggernauts.

That was nothing compared to the series of body blows Gase has had to manage before this season.

A season-ending injury to starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

A season-ending injury to starting middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan.

A half-season injury to starting left guard Ted Larsen.

The Dolphins thought they were doing the right thing by asking the NFL to open the season at home, considering all the time and resources that have been put into picturesque Hard Rock Stadium.

Of course, Hurricane Irma had other ideas.

Of course, the Dolphins and Bucs would have preferred to play anywhere in Week 1, as opposed to delaying the game to their mutual bye week, forcing a schedule of 16 consecutive games.

The players in Miami’s locker room did not want that.

“Trust me, you don’t know what 16 straight weeks would do to your body,” one Dolphins veteran was telling a rookie who plays his position on Tuesday.

But that’s exactly what will happen for Miami, now forced to deal with perhaps one of the most difficult schedules in NFL history.

• Miami will play their first three games away from home — at Los Angeles, at New York and at London.

• In order to have a bye week in November, the Dolphins asked to play the week after London at home, which they’ll do. Of course, there is no longer a bye week in November.

• Miami will play only three of their first nine games in Miami Gardens.

• The Dolphins will also play two games in five days in October (a Sunday at Atlanta followed by a Thursday at home against the Jets).

Gase was able to steer the Dolphins through significant adversity in his first season, establishing confidence in the locker room and in the fan base with an unexpected 10 victories and a playoff appearance.

In 2016, Tannehill didn’t finish the season, nor did Mike Pouncey or Reshad Jones or Koa Misi or Byron Maxwell or Jordan Cameron or Jelani Jenkins.

Every team faces adversity. Every team loses at least a few key players to injury.

But all this is well above the mean.

Gase is a personable individual, capable of small talk with almost anyone of any background or with any job.

But it was clear on Tuesday that he was locked in on a season that will now not start as scheduled. Gase, like most coaches, is completely consumed by football.

“We’re going to keep preparing like we’re playing Sunday,” Gase said Tuesday. “Where and when, we really don’t care.”

It is safe to say Gase was not zoned in on The Weather Channel.

It is obviously of the utmost importance that the people of South Florida stay as safe as possible during what could be a potentially catastrophic natural disaster.

That is far, far more important than any football game or even season.

But Dolphins football is also important, not only to the players and coaches, but also to the South Florida community.

And so, it is our responsibility to also discuss how these off-field events may impact Miami’s season.

Gase has already exhibited strong leadership, confidence and management skills.

Once again, they’re about to be tested to the extreme.

Breaking: NFL moves Miami Dolphins’ game vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Nov. 19

Miami Dolphins LB Mike Hull fighting to keep hold on starting spot

Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris is locked in and ‘ready to rock and roll’

 

Miami Dolphins LB Mike Hull fighting to keep hold on starting spot

Miami Dolphins linebacker Mike Hull at Hard Rock Stadium. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Rey Maualuga was sitting a few lockers away from Mike Hull this week, explaining, as any veteran would, how he wants to be the Miami Dolphins’ starting linebacker.

At another moment, the rookie who was supposed to start at middle linebacker, Raekwon McMillan, was crossing in front of Hull as he tried to retrieve some things from his locker. McMillan will miss the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

It seems as tough and scrappy and hard-nosed as Hull is, as relentless as he is on special teams, there is skepticism about if Hull, 6-feet, 232 pounds, can be an effective starting linebacker in the NFL.

When you’re undrafted, that’s where the skepticism can start.

When you’re undersized, that’s where the skepticism can compound.

Hull has heard it all. He’s also thought a lot about opportunity. About how an injury can happy at any time. About how an opportunity to start can disappear at any time.

And so if Hull starts in the season opener against Tampa Bay, which certainly is possible, he plans to put every ounce of effort into not only his special teams reps, but his reps in the middle of Miami’s defense.

“Every time I step on the field I know I have to make the most of the opportunity,” Hull said Tuesday. “Nothing really come easy for me. I always have to prove someone or something wrong, every time I’m out there. So I just want to keep doing that.”

Hull realized that not only had he made the Dolphins, but was going to be a central cast member, when he actually held out of the preseason finale at Minnesota. There was Mike Hull, in sweats and sneakers. Because the coach didn’t want to risk him to injury.

“I knew it was a good sign at that point, just because of the other guys that were being held out,” Hull said. “So at that point, it was just prepare for Tampa Bay and get ready to have a great game this week. It was definitely a different experience, not being in full uniform.”

Hull barely played in the preseason, but it was by design.

In the past two preseasons, he was among the team’s leading tacklers.

“I think I played well, given the opportunities that I had,” Hull said. “I think this year, my reps were way down compared to my reps the last two years. Which is a little weird for me. Just because I’m a guy that’s used to being out there all the time, especially on special teams. I think I had only one snap on all four special teams this year. So it was a different experience. But I feel comfortable going in and I feel healthy which is the main thing.”

What does Hull believe his role will be in the season opener?

“Just play on defense in certain personnel groupings when they need me, just like I have been all preseason,” he said. “And being a core special-teamer as well. Core special-teamer is why I’ve always been here. Playing on defense whenever my number is called that’s how you stick in this league.”

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