Ndamukong Suh is learning quickly about the pressure that comes with a $114 million contract.
Suh, the Dolphins’ record-setting defensive tackle, is only two games into a six-year contract that could pay him that royal sum, but is already at the center of a controversy following Miami’s uninspired 1-1 start.
A report in the Miami Herald suggest Suh “freelanced” during a Week Two loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, ignoring defensive playcalls.
“I just watched the entire tape with the entire defensive snap and I didn’t see anything of the sort,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said earlier this week. “I’m not sure where that came from.”
Asked about the report Wednesday, Suh also denied the report.
“What for? I mean, that’s my job, to go out and play as hard as I can, with their direction,” he said.
Through the first two weeks of the season, Suh has just three tackles – none of which have gone for a loss – and four quarterback pressures. After Miami’s season-opening win against Washington, Suh described his play as poor. He didn’t back off that assessment this week.
“Still not quite where I want it to be,” he said of his performance. “Fundamentally, I just have to get back into the sync of things and that’s what practice is for, getting with the coaches and understanding my mistakes that I’ve made.”
With Suh as its centerpiece, the Dolphins’ defensive line was supposed to be a strength of the team. But with just one sack and opposing teams averaging 142 rushing yards per game, the exact opposite has been true.
“I just think it’s unacceptable,” Suh said. “You’ve got to respect every single team’s run game. That’s our first goal. We’ve got to go out there and stop” the run “and obviously if we don’t, we’re not going to have that many opportunities to pass rush and get after the quarterback.”
If Suh’s performance hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations that come with his contract, the Bills either aren’t saying or don’t believe it to be true.
“Suh has always been one of the most explosive players in the league and his ‘get off’ is tremendous,” Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “He is such a physical force. He can wreck the whole game if you let him. He looks the same that he did in Detroit. Just a powder keg. So we got our hands full there and got a lot of work to do in our preparation.”
“He’s very disruptive, very powerful, very strong, and very smart,” said Bills guard Richie Incognito, who will likely see his fair share of Suh on Sunday. “That’s a deadly combo.”
The Bills had a new addition to the injury report Thursday, as receiver Marcus Easley was limited in practice because of a back injury.
“He just did something I guess in practice yesterday,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “But he was fine. He’ll be OK.”
Defensive end Jerry Hughes (wrist), linebacker Tony Steward (knee) and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (ribs) joined Easley in being limited at practice. Ryan said Goodwin is the only one of those players who might not be ready to face the Dolphins.
Running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring), punter Colton Schmidt (hip), quarterback Tyrod Taylor (chest), wide receiver Percy Harvin (hip) and kicker Dan Carpenter (abdomen) are all listed on the Bills’ injury report, but practiced fully Thursday and will play barring a setback.
Safety Aaron Williams, who is recovering from a scary neck injury suffered against the Patriots, did not practice Thursday and is not expected to play against Miami, but could return in Week Four.
On the Miami side, left tackle Branden Albert missed his second straight practice Thursday with a hamstring injury, leaving his availability in question. Dolphins defensive tackle Earl Mitchell also did not practice Thursday with a back injury. He wasn’t listed on the injury report Wednesday.
Roman didn’t shed much light on the Bills’ reasoning for trading backup quarterback Matt Cassel to the Dallas Cowboys earlier in the week.
“I think stuff like that probably needs to stay in house,” Roman said.
Roman called a question about what the Bills would lose by trading Cassel “hypothetical.” He did, however, say the team is comfortable with EJ Manuel as Taylor’s backup.
“Really feel good about EJ in the No. 2 role,” Roman said. “I think EJ is a guy with a lot of talent. A lot of ability and a really good approach, day in and day out. So I’m very pleased with our two guys.”