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Three different players. Three different stories. Three unique perspectives.
Let’s start with Cameron Wake. Always a good place to start.
I needed to take the pulse of this team. I needed to see what the mindset is, how the players have handled the disappointment of the loss to Buffalo and whether they are in the right frame of mind heading to New England.
So I paid a visit to the player who could answer all those questions.
Wake always has a lot on his mind and he’s never reluctant to give us a sampling of his thoughts. This day was no different. Sitting at his locker, slowly getting dressed after another long, hot afternoon, I asked Wake to put in all in perspective.
“The bandwagon door always seems to be wide open,” he said. “People get on. People get off. That’s the way it works. You can’t pay attention to it. You just have to focus on what you can control.
“I’d love to tell you we are a great football team, that we are the best in the league in this and the best in the league at that. But I guess I’m a realist. You are what your record says you are. So let’s be real. I can’t sugarcoat it. Up until now, we’ve been average. No more. No less. We’ve been decent here, decent there. But we haven’t done anything to stick out, haven’t done anything to separate ourselves.
“I feel like we can be a great team. Offense. Defense. Special teams. But there are plays you have to make to be able to say you are the best and we just haven’t made them. Third and long you have to produce on offense. Third and long you have to stop them on defense. To this point, some of those plays have slipped by us. It that greatness? No, it’s not.
“Are we close? We are as close as we are far away. Sure, we’re close. But we’ve won as many games as we’ve lost. There are probably five or six plays that we made to be 3-3 and probably five or six plays that we’ve missed to be 3-3. I don’t think it’s a situation where we can’t make it happen. But it is still to be seen. The story needs to play out and right now it is only partially written.
“We have a chance to get it right, beginning Sunday in New England, and that’s what these next 10 games are all about.”
So the Dolphins acquire offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie on Monday, he shows up for practice on Tuesday and the hope is to get him ready for Sunday in New England.
Too imposing a challenge? Dolphins guard Richie Incognito says he’s been there, done that. In fact, Incognito had even less time than McKinnie.
It was late in the 2009 season. Incognito was claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Bills. He flew into Buffalo at about 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night. Ironically, just like the Dolphins are this week, the Bills were playing at New England that Sunday.
“I got to Buffalo about 2 a.m. Thursday morning,” he recalls. “They lost my bags. It wasn’t the ideal trip. I went to the hotel, slept for two or three hours, and then went to the practice facility. Over the next two days, I spent about 20 hours with the coaches going over plays and assignments.
“It was about midnight Friday when they told me I would be starting on Sunday in New England. I really didn’t have time to worry about it. I just went out and played. Was I lost? No question about it. On one play, we ran a reverse and I remember holding the guy because he was running the complete opposite way and I didn’t know it was a reverse. I remember saying to myself: What the heck is he doing?”
So how did Incognito grade out in that game? “It wasn’t about grades,” he said, “it was about survival. We played the Patriots and we lost but I somehow got through the game so I guess it shows you can come to a new team and a few days later play in a game. It isn’t easy, but you can do it.”
I like to occasionally re-visit safety Jordan Kovacs because he is one of my favorite stories on this Dolphins team.
You remember his story? Walked on at Michigan. Literally had to beg for a chance. Four years later was the captain of the team and the leading tackler. Signed by the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie. Undersized and undervalued, most figured he didn’t have a chance.
And today? Kovacs was elevated to the active roster from the practice squad for the fifth regular season game. Now plays on three or four different special teams. Having the time of his life.
“Every player on the field is a great athlete,” he said. “That’s the difference between here and college. Every player here was a star in college. I’m having a blast. I’m learning that I can play on this level. To make the team and to get on the active roster after not being drafted that’s something that means a lot to me.”
“I’ve had a few of those already,” he said. “But my first one was against Baltimore. I’m on the right wing on punt coverage. Usually I’m lined up against someone about my size. But on this one they have big Courtney Upshaw lined up against me. He’s a defensive end/linebacker. I mean he outweighs me by a lot. So he grabs me and throws me to the ground.
“It was a tough play, a tough moment.”
Kovacs smiled: “But I’m not complaining. This is a dream come true for me. I just need to keep working and keep getting better. That’s what it’s all about.”
Like I’ve said before, it’s hard not to root for a kid like Jordan Kovacs
On Friday, AC in the AM tells you the key to beating the Patriots.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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