- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Dion Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in April's draft by the Miami Dolphins, hasn't played since re-injuring his shoulder in the second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, all indications are that he will make his NFL regular-season debut Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
Jordan has practiced without restriction for the past two weeks. Miami will unleash its top draft choice this weekend barring any late, unexpected setbacks.
But what exactly will Jordan's role be Sunday in Cleveland? Let’s examine.
Situational pass-rusher: Jordan wasn’t healthy enough in training camp to win the starting job from Olivier Vernon -- meaning he'll get limited reps off the bench as Miami’s third defensive end. Jordan’s unique athleticism also lends itself to the possibility of action in substitution packages, such as Miami’s nickel and dime defenses. When Jordan gets into the game, his primary responsibility is to wreck havoc and get to the quarterback. The Dolphins have a lot more athleticism and team speed on defense this year, and the addition of Jordan is a key reason.
Special-teams impact: I’m not a fan of the idea, but Jordan has been getting a lot of work lately on special teams -- a way to get him more repetitions. Miami head coach Joe Philbin is not afraid to use some of his top players in the third phase of the game. “We think we have a chance to be a very, very good special-teams unit,” Philbin said. “We want to utilize our personnel in the best way possible. If [Jordan] is on one of those teams, then we’ve come to the conclusion that is going to help that particular phase of special teams.” Considering Jordan’s injury history and the violent nature of special teams, I don’t feel the risk is worth the reward. But keep an eye on this development early in the season.
We’ve only seen flashes from Jordan so far, because he’s been in and out of practices and preseason games. Sunday will be a good opportunity to showcase his skills in a big game for Miami.
"I'm going to be excited," Jordan said this week. "This is my first real, official regular-season football game. I'm going to probably have to control my emotions, so when I get out there I'm able to help out this team so I can get the 'W.'"