When the Miami Dolphins started their rebuild, they dumped a lot of salaries, making room for a lot of new players in the process.
To fill out the ranks, the Dolphins brought in a few former AAF players, cheap NFL free agents, new draft picks, and a whole bunch of undrafted free agents who will all come in to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster, as mandatory mini-camp fast approaches.
But they are being somewhat selective with who they bring in, making sure they meet certain standards that Miami is looking for in their players.
“I think when Brian (Flores) and I got together with the personnel department and the coaching staff, we wanted to make sure we’re adding guys that had toughness, competitiveness, guys that love football, are very intelligent and (have a) history of production in college, as well." said general manager Chris Grier. "We’ve kind of done that. We feel good. We’ve addressed some holes in the roster maybe that we may have; but again, a lot of work to be done still.”
One of the players the Dolphins brought in was defensive end Dewayne Hendrix out of Pittsburgh, and he's fully prepared to compete for a spot on a roster that is short on DEs.
"I've been dealing with competition my whole life," Hendrix said on Wednesday during an exclusive PhinManiacs interview. "I love it to be honest, there's nothing like going out there and competing. I wouldn't want nothing given to me, I wanna earn it. I look forward to competing with those guys."
As of now, the only players listed as DEs on Miami's roster are Jonathan Woodard, Tank Carradine, and former first round draft pick Charles Harris. He also has fellow undrafted free agent Jonathan Ledbetter out of Georgia to beat out for a roster spot.
Hendrix views himself as a pass rusher primarily, and acknowledges that one thing he needs to get better at is getting off of blocks faster. Fortunately, he knows a thing or two about being working hard and being patient with his development, thanks to the things he went through in college after transferring to Pittsburgh from the University of Tennessee.
"My time there, it started off a little rough," Hendrix said. "I had to sit out a year, and I'd never done that before. Then that following year I ended up getting hurt. So that whole two years has really taught me how to be patient, you know good things will come if you'll be patient. After that is when I had two seasons and then I am where I am today."
During the two years and 21 games he was able to actually play at Pittsburgh, Hendrix racked up 50 tackles (10 tackles for a loss), 7.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. He's also played in both 4-3 and 3-4 defensive alignments, and that versatility will go a long way in the hybrid defense head coach Brian Flores is projected to install.
One of the signature skills of Flores' former team, the New England Patriots, is taking otherwise unheralded players and turning them into solid contributors. That is Hendrix - and other undrafted free agents - in a nutshell. There's talent to be developed with Hendrix, and it will be a real test of Flores and the coaching staff's ability to make these new players realize their NFL potential.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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