Welcome back to The Miami Herald’s live Dolphins free agent blog. The Dolphins on Thursday are introducing at least eight of their new players to the media through Zoom video conferencing. We will update this throughout the day:
4:40 p.m.: Shaq Lawson’s approach to time spent in the locker room is akin to how he approaches games. He’s competitive. He’s energetic. And he wants to be felt, as they say.
“They’re going to see that side Day One when I come in the building,” Lawson said. “I’ve always been a loud guy. I’m very competitive. I always want to win, and it could be even an argument or a chat in the locker room but I’ve always been very competitive. I’m a guy who’s going to bring energy and spirit in the locker room every day. I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a bad day in the locker room.”
Despite the demeanor, Lawson wanted little to do with the idea he’s the better Clemson defensive lineman compared to new Dolphins teammate and former Clemson teammate Christian Wilkins.
“He basically did it all as a college player. I didn’t play on the offensive side of the ball so he got the advantage on that side of the ball,” Lawson said. “But I mean we both had an excellent career at Clemson. We both were All-Americans. We both were up for the same awards.
“So you can’t say which one is better. Only difference for me is he played on the offensive side of the ball and scored touchdowns and I haven’t scored yet.”
4:10 p.m.: New Dolphins guard Ereck Flowers explained what was obvious: The move from tackle with the Giants to guard with the Redskins jump-started his career.
“The switch played to a lot of my natural strengths,” he said. “It really helped having coach [Bill] Callahan and making that switch with the best offensive line coach in the league. I was very fortunate with the time and place. Looking forward to taking those next steps and getting better.”
Playing opposite Brandon Scherff in Washington was helpful: “A Pro Bowl guard seeing what he was does with his preparation” aided his own development.
Playing for his hometown team “means a lot,” Flowers said. “I grew up wanting to play down here. Being able to play all three levels is a special opportunity. I’m really excited.”
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Flowers played high school ball at Miami Norland before moving on to the University of Miami.
3:30 p.m.: Linebacker Kyle Van Noy, one of the biggest additions to the defense, doesn’t want to be pigeonholed.
“I feel I’ll be playing everywhere like I have been; I don’t consider myself having a position,” he said. “I don’t like being called a d-end or linebacker or anything. I’m just a football player. My versatility will be able to be a matchup problem for any coach, because you never know where I will line up and match up against.”
No surprise here: He has high regard for Dolphins coach Brian Flores, for whom he played in New England:
“You probably wish you could play for him if you play football, the grit he has, the competitiveness he has,” Van Noy said. “He’s ready to go all the time.”
And Van Noy said he’s not surprised Tom Brady left New England for Tampa Bay.
“Given the fact he didn’t get a contract done beforehand, there were too many other teams that would be hard to pass up the opportunity where in free agency, you can make some money,” Van Noy said. “He got what he deserved. I hope the best for him. I think he will be good in Tampa. I’m just glad he’s in the NFC. The [Patriots] still have a really good set of football players that will be hungry to prove to a lot of people that they’re still in it.”
2:30 p.m.: Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah brings versatility to the Dolphins’ front seven and that obviously was a reason he was attractive to the Dolphins.
“I think I make my biggest [impact] as an edge rusher,” Ogbah said. “But [I am] versatile. I can do a lot of things. I can rush inside, I can rush outside. Just do my part to help the team win games is why I’m here.”
Ogbah missed most of the season because of a pectoral injury, but he says he was cleared by doctors “four or five weeks ago.”
Ogbah missed the Super Bowl because of his injury, but the payoff will be no less tangible for him. “I still get a ring,” he said.
2:05 p.m.: In Jordan Howard, the Dolphins are getting a running back who has the third-most rushing yards and seventh-most touchdowns since 2016. He said the Dolphins did not tell him if he would be the starter and didn’t specify his role at all, though he assuredly will be one of Miami’s top two backs.
With a career 4.4 per-carry average, Howard describes his style as “rugged, pretty physical. I like to make defenders feel me. I try to make them quit, so they don’t really want to tackle me. I’m not a make-you-miss guy. That’s not really my game.”
Howard played only one snap in Philadelphia’s final seven games because of a shoulder injury. But “I’m back 100 [percent],” he said. “It took awhile but finally back to 100. Can’t wait to get back to playing football.”
1:40 pm: Byron Jones — who is now the highest-paid cornerback in football with his five-year, $82.5 million deal — sounded genuinely excited about joining a team he believes is ascending.
“With the prospect of drafting a lot of dope players — and we’ve brought in a lot of free agents — I want to be part of the building of something special,” he said. “I like the young roster. I like the coach. It’s a good fit. We got some ballers; no question about that. The challenge is putting it together and winning games. It’s exciting.”
Of lining up opposite another Pro Bowl cornerback in Xavien Howard, Jones said: “I am looking forward to playing with all my teammates, especially playing across from a top-tier corner. That’s going to be a cool little duo for us.”
He said he believes he will bring “leadership and good man coverage.”
He was self-deprecating about having only two career interceptions, noting: “It’s a joke I haven’t had an interception in two years. It’s bizarre. But it doesn’t bother me in any way. 2018, I had a ball hit me in the back of my head and it was kind of embarrassing..... I do have good ball skills, but it has to show up on game day.”
12:15 p.m.: Center Ted Karras had multiple contract offers — including one to stay with the Patriots — but decided to leave for the Dolphins for several reasons.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores — who had previously worked with Karras in New England — was at or near the top of the list.
And the way the Dolphins finished the 2019 season — with a win in Foxborough — helped convince Karras the Dolphins were on the right track.
“They have big tough guys on the defensive line,” Karras said. “Stout defense. Similar scheme to what we were doing. Any time you play ... Coach Flores’ teams, it’s going to be a tough day for the guys in the inside. That was a tough loss for us. They came up on New Year’s to New England and beat us, that earned a lot of respect from us.”
11:15 am: New Dolphins linebacker Elandon Roberts was first up among the 10 newcomers and made one thing very clear: He’s a big fan of Dolphins coach Brian Flores, having played for him in New England.
What’s clear about Flores is “how much he cares about you as a player,” Roberts said. “I can’t wait to get started.”
He added: “I love I’m a Miami Dolphin. I’m 100 percent bought in.”
He declined to give an opinion about Tom Brady’s decision to leave his former team and join Tampa Bay but said: “I feel like Tom made the best decision best for him. He’s a great guy.”
Roberts figures to get a chance to compete for a starting job with the Dolphins. He started 33 games for New England over the past four seasons, including three last season. He had 29 tackles and a sack last season and also played 70 snaps on offense in a fullback-type role. He’s also considered a quality special teams player.
This story was originally published March 26, 2020 11:21 AM.