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Linebacker Jordan Tripp, a fifth-round pick out of Montana, has been one of the pleasant surprises of training camp. He is smart, instinctive and tough. So smart, in fact, that he is learning every linebacker position.
“Love those tough Montana kids,” said defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. “This young man has a real chance to make it.”
It is still too early to project where Tripp might fit in. Right now it’s about making it through each day and getting used to this level of competition.
It is late one morning last week and, as usual, Tripp is one of the last players to leave the field. With sweat pouring down his face and with his jersey rolled up to let the hot breeze in, No. 57 on your Dolphins roster agrees to tackle 10 questions.
1. Your father played linebacker at Montana. Your grandfather played linebacker there as well. What does it mean to you and to them for you to get this chance?
JT: This is everything my dad taught me when I was a little kid. If you have a dream and a goal you’ve got to take a million steps to get there. You skip a step and you are not going to get there. So I’m keeping what he said in mind and making sure I don’t miss a thing. I talk to my dad all the time. I know this means a lot for all of us.
2. You are a rookie trying to crack a spot on a veteran defense. How do you approach this challenge?
JT: It is not a challenge for me as much as it is an opportunity. I have an opportunity here to play the sport I love. I’m going to maximize every opportunity I get. I’m a lucky guy. I get to wake up every day and play football. That’s something I never take for granted and will never take for granted. You’ll never see me hanging my head. I feel blessed to be out here.
3. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
JT: I ride horses. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve rode horses. I push cattle. I work on the ranch. I love everything outdoors. I love to fish and hunt. People I guess would expect that with me being from Montana. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to check out everything you can do outdoors down here.
4. For somebody who has never seen you play, how would you describe yourself as a player?
JT: Passionate. Very passionate. Everything I do is with a passion. I’m intense. I’m very instinctive. I try to react at full speed out there.
5. Are you living a dream out here?
JT: Most definitely. As a kid, playing football is all I ever wanted to do. And now I have a chance to do it as a living. You can’t get much more fortunate than that. For me, it’s all about playing my best. That may sound cheesy to you, but my dad always said even if your goals are sky high, you have to concentrate on what’s right in front of you. And that’s how I approach everything I do on the football field.
6. Give us an idea what the top most played songs are on your I-tunes?
JT: The band is Tool. Like them a lot. The song is called Schism. I would say I like H. Yes, it’s called H, also by Tool. Also some Reggae music. I like country. I like Reggae. I have a wide range of music interests.
7. Have you had a welcome to the NFL moment yet?
JT: I was sitting in the film room the other day and I watched Koa Misi just blow up Vonta Leach. I mean he really got him good. That was a “wow” moment for me because Leach is probably the best fullback in the league and for a linebacker to make a play like that was something that really hit home with me.
8. The Dolphins had a fifth-round draft choice at linebacker back in 1996, a guy named Zach Thomas who had an unbelievable career. You are a fifth-round draft choice. Does knowing something like that offer you hope?
JT: There is a first time for everyone. I’m not sure Tom Brady came into the league pointing to another sixth-round quarterback who made it. Everybody is different. Everybody has different skills. I’m sure Zach Thomas was a great player, but right now I’m just concerned with being the best player I can be. When you are here you are here. It doesn’t matter how you got here, just as it makes no difference that I grew up in Montana.
9. Tell us why you feel you can be a productive player in this league?
JT: Preparation and focus. I just have to continue to use the skills I’ve been given and come out here every day with a purpose. I know I can play. I know I can contribute. I just have to prove it every day. I believe I can come out here and help this team. Now it’s just up to the coaches to decide where they want to put me.
10. If you make the 53-man roster, how would you celebrate?
JT: (A big smile). I would call my dad first. He’d be so happy for me. After that, I would start getting ready for the first game. Like I said, it’s all about taking steps and that would be a big step for me.
(On Thursday AC in the AM evaluates the free agents signed by the Dolphins this past offseason.)
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