It is no secret that Miami has struggled to field a solid linebacker corps for many seasons. Free agent after free agent has failed to pan out as hoped. This year the front office took a different approach and acquired Kiko Alonso via trade. That moves comes with risk as Alonso has dealt with knee injuries the last two seasons.
Unfortunately, his knees have not allowed him to be on the field to display his Pro Bowl level talent. It is way too early to know anything after a day of voluntary practice, which new head coach Adam Gase pointed out.
“I would say it’s tough for me to predict anything." he said. "I mean, it’s been one day. We’ve had eight meetings. Time will tell. We have a long ways to go and we’ll see how it goes for the rest of the offseason.”
With that being said, many eyes will be on Kiko Alonso during training camp wondering if the team finally has the answer for its woes at linebacker. After the first voluntary practice, Kiko was available to answer some questions and give a few updates.
After two injury plagued seasons, a lot of attention will be placed on Alonso’s health. When he was asked if he feels he can go full speed with no limitations, his answer was a confident “Absolutely.” Similarly he was asked if he has physically regained everything from before his injury and his answer was simply “yeah.”
It is quickly becoming clear that Alonso is a man that does his talking on the field. One question on people’s minds is if he felt that he was not 100 percent back from his injury last season. Alonso made no excuses.
“I don’t like to fall back on that. I just didn’t have a good year, and that’s just how it was. I just have to get better.”
Alonso, like all the other players, are now going to be playing for new coaching staff. Many people are wondering how the players will respond to such a young head coach. Alonso had an interesting perspective on what stood out to him about coach Gase.
“Just his desire to try and get better (and) try to find ways to get better.”
Alonso is expected to play middle linebacker in new defensive coordinator Vance Joesph’s scheme, and he described Joseph’s scheme as aggressive. He is not the first player to echo these sentiments so I think you can expect the scheme to involve some more high risk, high reward calls during the games this year.
One thing important with a veteran player is that they know how to pick up the scheme. This will be vital for Alonso since he will be calling the defensive plays on the field. This was not a concern for him however, in fact he said he seemed rather lax about the prospect.
“I’ve been calling (plays) my whole football career.”
One interesting side aspect of Alonso is he attended the University of Oregon with Dion Jordan. They are still friends that stay in contact. When asked how Jordan is doing and if he thinks Jordan will be back, Alonso didn't say much.
“We’ll see. That’s not up to me. I’d love for him to be here. He’s a great football player.”
Other than that he wisely wanted to stay away from talking about his old college teammate. He was asked if he Jordan will apply for reinstatement to which he responded,
“That’s between you guys and Dion Jordan.”
In today’s NFL teams are going away from one dimensional linebackers. Teams want versatile linebackers that can do it all, which is likely why the Dolphins had interest in Alonso. He clearly seems up for the task when he mentioned that he fit that mold.
“I like to think at the linebacker position that I can do it all. I think to be a great linebacker now – in this day and age – you have to do it all. You have to be able to stop the run. You have to be able to play in coverage. You have to be able to play man-to-man.”
Kiko Alonso is certainly focused on getting better. When asked what he thought about his career in league so far all he had to say was this:
“That’s a good question. I don’t know. I think it is yet to be said. All I’m worried about is getting better and using this time to get better and learn the defense.”
That is exactly the attitude coaches love to see from the players this time of year. Alonso is a man of few words, but they're oozing with confidence, and that's the kind of attitude that has been missing from the team for some time. Hopefully it takes form on the field.
This story was written by Chad Ronnebaum. Follow him on Twitter: @Gofins4SB
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