DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) — Under second-year General Manager Dennis Hickey, the Miami Dolphins had a stronger draft class in 2014 than during previous regimes. Early indications are that the 2015 draftees could continue that trend.READ MORE: CVS, NAACP Team Up To Get COVID Vaccines To People Of Color In South Florida
For about three weeks preceding the start of Dolphins training camp, rookie defensive lineman Jordan Phillips and his fiancee were on a vacation of sorts in Oregon.
They were together about 22 hours a day.
The other two hours of Phillips’ time was owned by Ndamukong Suh.
When the new defensive leader of the Dolphins asked Phillips — this year’s second-round pick by Miami — to join him for what essentially was a training camp before training camp, the rookie didn’t hesitate before accepting the invitation. They worked on football, yoga, stretching, strength, mental approach, anything and everything that Suh thought would make Phillips better.
“That’s an example of leadership — taking a young player, showing him obviously from a physical standpoint and a professionalism standpoint, a preparation standpoint, some of the things that he’s done to get himself ready,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “Now, to take a young player under his wing so to speak and do those things, that’s one great example that he’s done already in the short time he’s been here.”
Encouraging Phillips to join him out west is just one thing Miami is already citing as proof that Suh — whose reputation has taken some hits over some troubling on-field behavior — was worth the $114 million, six-year investment the Dolphins made this past offseason. He’s still more than a month from making his first regular-season play with the Dolphins, but his leadership role isn’t in question.
“How hard he works, it’s incredible,” Phillips said. “I’ve never seen anybody work the way he does. That’s something I want to do.”
How much is Suh lifting, exactly?
“I have no idea. No idea,” Phillips said. “I’m sure it’s not even measurable.”
The Dolphins were off Monday following four days of on-field workouts to begin their training camp. Practice resumes Tuesday morning.READ MORE: Eye On Earth: 'One Of The Most Peaceful Places In South Florida': Wakodahatchee Wetlands
Then again, with Suh, one of the first thing Phillips learned in his time with him is that there aren’t really days off in the NFL. Even for someone at Suh’s level, there’s always some way to get better.
“As I have grown up and understood in the league, being hopefully one of the elite guys, to be good and to be great as I want to be you have to go out there and help the guys around you, especially younger guys,” Suh said. “Bring them along once you understand your role of what you have to accomplish. Jordan Phillips, guys like that you want to be able to help. Obviously they have great talent or they wouldn’t be here.”
It takes far more than talent to succeed in the NFL.
For those two hours every day in Oregon, that’s what Suh was stressing to Phillips. And the rookie took notice.
“I didn’t feel like a big vet like that would be as open to helping a young guy like me,” said Phillips, who played his college ball at Oklahoma. “But he took on the role and put me under his wing.”
Phillips has a lot to learn, as one would expect. In college, he was in a 3-4 scheme that had him reading and reacting. With the Dolphins, he’ll be part of a 4-3 front and attack more than he did in college.
“Football is football,” Suh said. “But there are different tasks, different wants, different needs.”
There’s also different levels of great.
That was another takeaway from Phillips’ time with Suh.
The Dolphins — offensive and defensive players alike — rave about Suh’s work ethic and his strength, no small feat considering not everyone stands out when a weight room is filled with brawny men. Phillips is massive, standing 6-foot-6 and weighing about 330 pounds. But working out next to Suh, he said, was just another illustrator of how far he has to go.
“If I can get to half as strong as he is,” Phillips said, “I’ll be fine.”MORE NEWS: Hundreds Benefit From Much-Needed Provisions At Miami Springs Food Distribution
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)