NFL Nation: Pass rush

DAVIE, Fla. -- Former Oregon star and No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan believes he's ready to help the Miami Dolphins get over the hump this season. The tricky part is Jordan has no idea what his role will be for Miami in 2013.

[+] EnlargeDion Jordan
Al Bello/Getty ImagesThe Miami Dolphins have had their eye on pass-rusher Dion Jordan for years, but their top pick will start training camp on the injury list.
Jordan currently is a potential star without a plan. Despite being taken in the first round last April, Miami’s coaching staff has yet to get its hands on Jordan during practice. The Dolphins’ first-round pick missed all of organized team activities and minicamp due to the University of Oregon’s quarter system and shoulder surgery he had last February. Miami also announced Sunday that Jordan will begin training camp on the non-football injury list. He only participated in warm-ups and did conditioning and stretching on the side.

Jordan's shoulder was expected to be 100 percent by the start of training camp. But that goal wasn't met, which adds to the mystery of his role and further pushes Jordan behind on the depth chart.

It's not the ideal start Jordan wanted as Miami's top pick.

"For any athlete, when this is your job and this is what your whole motivation is, it’s frustrating not being out there and watching the guys go,” Jordan said after Sunday's practice. “But I understand my health is the main concern right now. So that’s what I’m going to focus on.”

Jordan remains Miami's wild card. He has the athletic potential to produce double-digit sacks as a rookie, especially when paired opposite to Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake. Or Jordan could be a slow healer and a slow learner off the bench and not make much of an impact. That is why training camp and the preseason are vital for Jordan to get healthy and get quality reps sooner than later.

Miami moved up eight spots in the draft to get Jordan. Besides Wake, the Dolphins’ defense lacked the ability to consistently get to the quarterback and the team has been scouting Jordan for at least two years. Jordan has the dynamic versatility to move around in various spots once he’s healthy. But for now, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said sitting Jordan to start camp “was the best option.”

“[Patience] is something that I’m going to have to learn,” Jordan added. “I’m going to be as patient as I have to. At the same time, I have to understand what the situation is. I have to do whatever I have to do to make sure I’m ready for the season to help my guys.”

Coincidentally, 2012 third-round pick Olivier Vernon had a very good practice as the starting defensive end Sunday. Vernon had two sacks on Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Sunday and looks to be improving in Year 2 after showing flashes and recording 3.5 sacks as a rookie. Vernon could be the favorite to start in Week 1, depending on how long Jordan is out.

Jordan emphasized Sunday that he’s focusing on having a long career in the NFL, and playing injured early is not the best way to go about it. However, that won’t lower the bar for Jordan in Miami whenever he gets healthy.

“Everybody has high expectations, no matter when you’re drafted,” Jordan said. “You have expectations on yourself and the people who drafted you have expectations. So for me, I want to be successful and I want this team to be very successful. That’s the goal for all of us. I’m going to take care of myself so I can help this team.”
AFC hidden treasures: West | North | South | East NFC: West | North | South | East

Examining a position group that could exceed its preseason expectations:

Last year Buffalo was 19th against the pass. It wasn't all on the cornerbacks, but that position was certainly part of the problem. Safeties George Wilson and Jairus Byrd had solid seasons, but the cornerback play was mostly uneven. There were a lot of penalties, missed assignments and injuries at the position.

Enter hidden treasures Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Williams. Gilmore was taken in the first round this year, and Williams was a second-rounder in 2011. Both are expected to contribute right away and could be Buffalo's starting tandem in 2012. Gilmore wasn't a big name in this draft but is considered an NFL-ready player. The South Carolina product has been impressive in offseason workouts. Williams was in and out of the lineup last year due to injuries. But when healthy, Williams showed flashes of being a solid and athletic corner. Ten-year veteran Terrence McGee also will compete for a starting job.

Keep in mind that Buffalo's not-so-hidden treasure -- its pass rush -- should be a tremendous boost to its cover corners. The team spent more than $100 million to add pass-rushing defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to the defense. Both players should set the edge and make it uncomfortable for quarterbacks. Teams will have less time to throw against the Bills, and that means less time for the corners to worry about coverage. This could result in more turnovers and more aggressive play.

Gilmore, Williams and McGee are not a trio of corners many are thinking about in June. But the mixture of youth and experience could pay off for the Bills this season if all three players stay healthy and productive.
The Buffalo Bills' already stout defensive line just got even better.

Buffalo signed former New England Patriots defensive end Mark Anderson to a four-year contract Wednesday. Anderson joins fellow defensive end Mario Williams and defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus on Buffalo's defensive line.

The Bills had trouble getting to the quarterback last season and made it a point to put their resources toward fixing the issue. Anderson recorded 10 sacks for the Patriots last season. Williams has 59 career sacks and is one of the NFL's best pass-rushers. Consider the problem solved.

Buffalo's defensive line is looking downright scary. The group will be very tough to move in the middle and pass protect against on the edges.

The Anderson signing also hurts the reigning AFC East champion Patriots. New England lose last season's team leader in sacks to a division rival. The Patriots are looking to add pass-rushers, not lose them.

For the first time in a long time, Buffalo is spending big money and making moves in free agency. Bills general manager Buddy Nix said the team will be major players this offseason, and Nix continues to prove it.

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