,hen you’re a 7th round pick, your chance to shine in the NFL may never come. When it does come, you have to be ready to step into your role as if you’ve been doing it your whole career.
And when you’re Isaiah Ford, whose rookie season was ruined by a knee injury before it even started, you have to work hard to keep the attention of the coaches and staff, so you can hang onto a roster spot in hopes of someday getting your chance to step on the field and shine.
Ford has done just that, impressing two Miami Dolphins coaching staffs enough that he’s hung on to the fringe of the roster through three seasons, and finally got a chance to show what he can do when two wide receivers went down to injuries Sunday against the New York Jets.
Head coach Brian Flores says he constantly tells players to accept the role they have and stay focused.
“Early on, we tell them, ‘look, it’s going to be a small role and your role will grow," He said. "The opportunities you get will be the ones you create for yourself.’”
Ford has seen spot duty in the past two seasons, bouncing from the active roster to the practice squad after twice being cut. Before Sunday, he’d appeared in five games, with two catches to his name. He tripled that with six catches for 92 yards on Sunday, and impressed Flores.
“I thought Isaiah - he stepped in,” said Flores. “Played every position from a receiver standpoint, got some (defensive) guys lined up, made some big catches and made a nice run after catch there in the third quarter. I thought he really played solid overall. Young guys stepping in, getting an opportunity, stepping up, making plays - that’s always good, and hopefully we can build on that.”
With three games left to the season, and wide receivers Albert Wilson and DeVante Parker expected back in the lineup, Ford may not see the opportunities that he got on Sunday for a while, but he appreciates finally having a chance to show what he can do, and hopefully earn an increased role in a crowded wide receiver room. In addition to Wilson and Parker, Jakeem Grant and Preston Williams, both on IR with injuries, will likely return next year as well, which could push Ford back to the edge of the roster.
Or maybe he showed enough to solidify a more stable spot on the roster. Ford certainly hopes that’s the case.
“Any time you get the opportunity, you want to make the most of it,” Ford says. “I think that I’ve prided myself on preparing and studying and practicing as if I was the starter, so when that time came that I would be prepared. So I think (my performance) was a reflection of that.”
Work hard. Do your job. Be ready. Yep, sounds like a Brian Flores kind of player, doesn’t it?
And in true starter fashion, Ford takes a team-first stance when asked if his performance reflected a moral victory for him personally.
“There’s no moral victory. We lost the game, got the corrections from it. Now it’s time to move on.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
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