When the Miami Dolphins signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a contract that made him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history, they were expecting to bring in a man who has a mean streak a mile long, as Suh's been considered by the majority of the NFL and its fans as the dirtiest player in the league, ahead of only former Dolphin Richie Incognito ironically enough.
What many people were not expecting was that apparently Suh's more aggressive alter ago only makes an appearance when he's on the football field, as his new Dolphins teammates have been able to witness firsthand as they've had an opportunity to get to know the All-Pro defensive tackle.
"He's not hard to talk to at all; he's very helpful. If he feels like someone can make a play, he's more willing to put somebody else in a better position than he's thinking about himself. If I'm over there rushing, he'll tell me, 'Go ahead and do your go-to move; I got your back if you don't make it.'" Dolphins linebacker Chris McCain said. "He's not selfish, he's more helpful than anything, man, and it's just fun being able to talk to him."
Although the majority of the Dolphins players were apparently shocked to find that Suh has a very calm and friendly demeanor underneath the brutish exterior, one newcomer wasn't surprised at all by what everyone is now witnessing.
"Me, Suh, and Zac Taylor, our quarterback coach, were all in the same recruiting class," said cornerback Zack Bowman, who was Suh's teammate at Nebraska. "All three of us came in the same year, and Suh was just a young pup. He was shy, very quiet, but worked really hard and was strong as an ox. I won't forget a time where we were walking to the parking lot and there was this little car, and he just lifted it like the Hulk."
Bowman can testify that there's more to Suh than meets the eye, and the episodes where he stomped on Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler were not indicative of the type of person he is off the field.
“He has a great personality. There’s people out there that kind of give him hassle about the way he plays and stuff like that. That’s just the way he approaches the game." Bowman said. "And then off the field he’s even a better person as far charity and donating, and doing things off the field for kids and stuff like that. I’ve known him for almost ten years now.”
The Dolphins have come to learn who Suh is as a person, but as a football player, nothing has changed. He's shown how good he can be, and has not been shy about his ability to dominate in practice.
"Just overall, he's an animal," Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins told TheFinsiders, "Besides his athletic ability and just being able to take on double teams and free everybody else up, he's got swag, he's a presence. People are going to look out for him, and when they're looking out for him, they're not looking out for other people. Just his whole demeanor and what it brings to the defense, we're going to be tough to run against, pass against and we're going to have a whole attitude to us."
But it's not just his on-field mean streak and attitude that has the Dolphins impressed, it's also the effort and work ethic he brings with him on the field and in the weight room that has the younger players looking to him when they want to know what it takes to be great, and the veteran players are gladly attesting to that.
“You can see his work ethic. You know a lot of people will see great players and they just think they become great players. They don’t do anything they just sit around watch TV and then they go out on Sundays and dominate." cornerback Brent Grimes said. "No, you see him as he works, it’s strictly business, he works out hard. When he gets on the field he practices hard, he tries to get stuff right. And combine that with his talent and it turns out he’s a great football player. That’s what I noticed since he’s come here.”
The only remaining criticism about Suh is that he is supposedly not a leader in the locker room, due to the fact that he isn't very vocal and doesn't really get loud and give rousing speeches. But that has also been disproven thanks to the fact that Suh has evidently gone out of his way to show the younger guys how to play like the best there is.
“Yeah, you know Suh’s the man." defensive end Terrence Fede told TheFinsiders. "Whenever we have a question he is open, he opened up the book when I need to ask some techniques, he's not afraid to help us. He’s a great guy, I’m looking forward to learning more from him throughout the season, I’m just happy he’s on our team. We have the best defensive tackle in the league so we’re ready to go.”
Suh's presence has already begun to change the attitude and confidence levels of the Dolphins defense, and that shift should continue the longer Suh gets opportunities to show exactly what he's made of. When the season begins, it will be Suh that teams will be watching for, and as a result, the defense as a whole will be able to go all out.
“Everybody knows about Suh obviously, so I’m pretty sure that teams are gonna be game planning for Suh, and the next thing you know we have a lot at the ends who will take advantage of that." Fede said. "Now teams are going to have to be able to single block the defensive ends because they’ll be spending most of their time on Suh."
The Dolphins are clearly in win-now mode, and with Suh, the team is poised to make a push for the playoffs after a seven-year drought. Let the games begin.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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