What's Next for the Dolphins After Dion Jordan Suspension?

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What's Next for the Dolphins After Dion Jordan Suspension?
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By just about any objective measure, the Miami Dolphins' 2014 offseason has been sort of a mess.

Free-agent acquisition Knowshon Moreno showed up out of shape and had to have his knee scoped, and starting center Mike Pouncey will miss the beginning of the regular season (at least) after injuring his hip.

Well, now the bad juju has extended to the defense.

As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports, defensive end Dion Jordan, the third overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, has been suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season:

The Dolphins released a statement in which Jordan took full responsibility for the misstep:

I recently learned from the NFL that I tested positive for stimulants that are banned under the NFL policy. I worked carefully with my advisors and the union to investigate the test results, and I take full responsibility for the test results. I’m very sorry for the impact of this situation on my teammates, coaches, Stephen Ross, the entire Dolphins organization, fans and my family as well. I will continue to work extremely hard during training camp and preseason. During the suspension, I will stay in top shape and will be ready to contribute upon my return.

Head coach Joe Philbin said, "We were disappointed to learn about Dion’s suspension. Dion has accepted responsibility for his actions and is committed to improving, both on and off the field, in preparation for the upcoming year."

It's news that won't do anything to erase the perception that trading up to select the former Oregon star in 2013 was yet another personnel blunder by the old regime in Miami.

Jordan was a bit player for the Dolphins as a rookie. But, at least part of those early struggles could be blamed on shoulder surgery that sidelined him through much of his first training camp.

This year, Jordan told Ross Davenport of Fox Sports Florida a couple of weeks ago, was going to be different:

I'm healthy. I'm good. I'm excited about this coming season. (Last year) I just came off surgery, so I definitely feel the difference. I had no time to rehab and take care of my body last year. Any time you can go out there at 100 percent, you can focus on your craft, improve yourself and help your team.

That optimism just got punched right in the face, but if there's a silver lining in all this, it's that the Dolphins are unfortunately accustomed to Jordan making zero impact for the team.

Jordan may have disappointed as a rookie, but fellow end Olivier Vernon was a revelation for the team in 2013. The third-year pro led the Dolphins with 11.5 sacks last year, and ESPN's James Walker recently listed Vernon as one of the stars of Dolphins' OTAs:

Vernon was Miami's breakout player of 2013. The former third-round pick exploded on the scene and led the Dolphins with 11.5 sacks. Now, Vernon is out to prove last season was not a fluke. Vernon had another strong offseason, capped by his 2 1/2 sacks in Miami's team scrimmage last week. Not only that, Vernon beat Dolphins Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert for two of his sacks. Vernon definitely caught Albert's attention. "He's real, real good," Albert said after the scrimmage. Vernon looks poised to hold onto his starting job and keep former No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan on the bench.

With that said, there were those who thought Jordan would push Vernon in camp—if not to start, then for significant playing time.

Those plans are now, as they say, kaput, at least for the time being.

With a healthy Cameron Wake back and flanking Vernon, from a front-line perspective, the Dolphins should be fine unless an injury strikes. They are now precariously thin up front, with third-year pro Derrick Shelby the best of an uninspiring group of reserves.

Will Dion Jordan ever record a 10-sack season in the NFL?

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The biggest questions surround Jordan's NFL future at this point. Every bit of positive momentum Jordan had built this offseason is gone, replaced by even more doubt.

After all, when a player who "looked like he took an air pump to his arms and shoulders" at OTAs, as noted by Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (per Dan Hanzus of NFL.com) gets a four-game PED ban, more than a few people are going to assume the "stimulant" Jordan took starts with an "s" and rhymes with "steroids."

It's the polar opposite of the start that the Dolphins were hoping for in Year 2 from Jordan, and, while it may not be a death knell for either Jordan or the 'Fins, it's one more steaming pile of bad news in an offseason that's included nothing but on South Beach.

 

Gary Davenport is an NFL Analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPManor.

 

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