DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Dion Jordan might have found a spot at linebacker for the Miami Dolphins.
Drafted as a defensive end, Jordan showed a knack for the linebacker position last week in Miami’s 37-35 victory over the Minnesota Vikings
Jordan’s versatility and unique athletic skills made him attractive enough to Miami in 2013 to trade up to the third overall pick. But a lingering shoulder injury limited his snaps as a rookie and he was suspended for the first six games of this season for use of banned substances.
With four-time Pro Bowl player Cam Wake and Olivier Vernon ahead of him at defensive end, Jordan has been used in specially designed speed rush packages and to cover the bigger tight ends in the division like New England’s Rob Gronkowski.
“The nice thing about him is we can put him at a linebacker and he can drop in coverage, or we can put him at linebacker and he can rush,” coach Joe Philbin said. “They (the opponents) have to figure out how they can count him, so to speak, in terms of their offensive identification system.
“I think that’s one advantage of having him out there is it creates a little bit of indecision and sometimes he can play man-to-man, he can play zone, he can rush the quarterback. I think his versatility and flexibility is a big advantage for us defensively.”
Prior to the Minnesota game, Jordan had made the most impact on special teams covering kickoffs and being an intimidating force on opposing punters with his length and quickness. The 6-foot-6, 275-pounder has come close to blocking a few punts and he had the Vikings’ long snapper worried enough to force an errant snap that led to Terence Fede’s blocked punt for a safety that won the game.
Jordan also had his first sack of the season, dropping Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the third quarter on a drive that ended in an interception. The Dolphins scored the go-ahead touchdown after that turnover and Jordan saw his most extensive time at outside linebacker the rest of the way.
“We ran a lot of the same plays that we ran while at defensive end, so I understood the calls,” said Jordan, who had two solo tackles and three special teams tackles to go along with the sack. “I just had to execute what they asked me to do and make the plays when they came.
“I did a lot of these things in college (at Oregon) and I’m not that far removed. I still understand. All I have to do is make sure I was where I’m designed to be in the defense, and whenever the play is there just make the play.”
The linebacker experiment will continue for Jordan on Sunday against the New York Jets in the season finale for both teams.
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