DAVIE, Fla. — A sweltering practice had just ended Monday, and a puddle of perspiration formed at the feet of Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan, who was losing weight even as he talked about gaining it.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft said he has added more than 15 pounds in the past year, which should make him better equipped to take on NFL blockers.
"I definitely feel stronger," Jordan said. "I needed it. Last year I was definitely too light to be out there trying to go against some of those offensive tackles."
Jordan was on the field for less than a quarter of the Dolphins’ defensive snaps in 2013, which meant only modest dividends from a player who received a $13.3 million signing bonus. He excelled as a pass rusher for Oregon, but at 6-6 and less than 250 pounds, the rookie had trouble finding a home in the Dolphins’ 4-3 defence.
A stronger Jordan should be a better fit at end, and he said the additional bulk hasn’t cost him any speed or quickness. At 24, he expects to get even heavier as he grows older.
"Have you seen my frame? Does it look like I’m getting too big?" said Jordan, who has long arms and legs. "I would never sacrifice my speed for weight."
Plus, he said, the extra weight comes in handy on days on Monday, when the temperature was near 90 by the time practice ended.
"If you can come out in this heat, game time will be cake," he said.
Jordan blames his slow development last year in part to the lingering effects of right shoulder surgery in February 2013. He missed much of training camp and said he was never 100 per cent last year.
"It’s hard to get better health-wise when you have live bullets each Sunday," he said. "It was a mental thing, because I was hurt and I was thinking about it a lot."
The shoulder also kept him out of the weight room, but now he’s healthy and able to take full advantage of the Dolphins’ off-season program, including a lifting regimen that has helped him to put on pounds.
Coach Joe Philbin likes what he sees from a heavier Jordan.
"The size can be an asset in the running game, and he still looks to be moving very well," Philbin said. "And he’s starting to play faster. You notice his play speed getting better — probably there’s less thinking, and more familiarity with what we’re asking him to do and how to do it."
One of Jordan’s tutors has been former Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor, whose has a similar physique with long limbs. Taylor has been working with Jordan two or three days a week this spring.
"That’s a bonus on my part," Jordan said. "He’s a cool dude, and he’s showing me how to use my length. He’s dropping a lot of knowledge."
Jordan’s fast enough to drop into pass coverage, and he lined up in several places on the defence during Monday’s practice. He also worked on special teams, as he did at Oregon and as a rookie.
"I can help this team," he said, "in a lot of ways."