Odrick joined The Finsiders right off the practice field to explain the importance of the team’s final preseason game and look ahead at the rapidly approaching 2012 season.
Perhaps because established starters see very little, if any, playing time, a team’s final preseason game often gets overlooked by the casual observer. The freshness of football action has already begun to wear off, yet the games still don’t count.
But the final exhibition can go a long way in deciding who makes the final roster. Nearly 30 percent of the remaining players must be cut before Week 1, so a fringe player’s final impression can be a lasting one. Odrick agrees. During a recent team meeting, the third-year defensive end spoke up to remind his teammates how important the final preseason game can be, especially in a transition year.
“You really have to think of it as an audition still for some of the older guys, as well, just because we do have a new coaching staff,” Odrick said. “We do have to take that mentality into practice because if you don’t, that’s when people start getting comfortable where they’re at. You can’t really ever take that type of approach.”
Despite that sentiment, though, it’s hard not to keep at least one eye on the Sept. 9 season opener in Houston. The Dolphins have never defeated the Texans–0-for-6 since Houston entered the league in 2002–including a 23-13 loss at Sun Life Stadium in Week 2 last season. If the players want to start preparing for Houston, they can ask to have game footage downloaded onto their iPads–all they have to do is ask.
“As much as you want to keep your focus on the Cowboys, Houston looms just as large,” Odrick said. “You don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket by just looking past Dallas and looking at Houston, but you want to get used to seeing some of their sets, seeing some of their formations and things like that and getting a feel for the way they move through their offense.”
Earlier in the off-season, Dolphins running back Reggie Bush was put on the spot regarding his personal expectations for the new yera. When he answered that he wanted to lead the league in rushing, talking heads were taken aback. The statement was, of course, taken quite literally, pushing it deep into the national consciousness.
Even if these personal goals are meant solely to motivate a player during what can be a marathon of a regular season, numerical milestones can create easy headlines. Odrick, though, is aiming for something that is far less less tangible. There is no specific sack number he wants to reach; he just wants to have his presence felt.
“Just to make an impact, and I think just by keeping it (a) generalized statement like that, everything else will follow,” Odrick said. “Just really working hard every day to make impact plays, not just plays that I’m supposed to make or plays that are coming right at me, but plays that would make me an impact player.
“Obviously every year you want to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player.”
If Odrick stays healthy and builds on last year’s production, a Pro Bowl wouldn’t be a complete stretch. In what was essentially his rookie season–he only played in one game in 2010–Odrick finished with six sacks. With the switch to a 4-3, the young defensive end should get more action, primarily at defensive end but also at tackle in obvious passing situations.
Now that he’s had some professional successes, it would be human nature to exhale. But, even when he was at Penn State, Odrick has preferred to constantly keep looking over his shoulder.
As soon as he gets comfortable, he starts picking apart his game looking for any holes he can.
“I always try to run scared,” Odrick said. “When you’re running scared, you tend to work a little bit harder.”
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