You work out all spring and practice all summer to get ready for the season. First game comes, you tear your Achilles’.
A season that has barely begun already is over.
It doesn’t get much worse for an NFL player … does it?
“Actually, if you think about it, it’s kind of like a good thing,” new Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes said after Monday’s team workout.
Grimes endured that scenario last season as the Atlanta Falcons’ franchise player. His logic is that if you’re going to suffer such an injury, the quicker you get it out of the way, the better.
“I mean, you never, ever want an injury like that, but if it’s going to happen, I guess it’s better to happen early than late. I used that time to recover, and I’m in good shape right now.”
The fact that Grimes, 29, can find a rosy side to even that injury shouldn’t surprise. Mileposts of his career include Division II Shippensburg (Pa.) University, the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europa … and the 2010 Pro Bowl. Any player able to connect those first two dots to the third one is either too stubborn to take no for an answer, able to turn negatives into positives, or both.
“You’ve got to keep making the most of your chances,” he said, quoting advice from his former coach in Atlanta, Emmitt Thomas, who traveled a similar path to the Hall of Fame.
Having parted with Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, the tandem they had hoped would nail down the cornerback positions for years, the Dolphins don’t necessarily need Grimes to play at a Hall of Fame level, but a starting role — if not a starring one — is critical to Miami’s season.
Coach Joe Philbin identified takeaways as an area needing improvement. The Dolphins tied for 24th in the NFL with a turnover differential of minus-10. No Miami cornerback had more than two interceptions. Grimes has had two seasons with at least five (2009 and 2010).
Philbin has been impressed with Grimes’ mobility coming off the injury.
“He’s changing direction well,” Philbin said. “He’s got very, very good instincts, and he’s very competitive. If you study him over the course of his career, those are things you can see on tape. And obviously we’d like to see him get his hands on the football.”
This wouldn’t be the first time Grimes makes a good first impression. He signed as an undrafted free agent with Atlanta in 2006 and had typical rookie jitters stepping onto the practice field. How long did those last?
“My first rep of one-on-ones,” he said. “I got an interception. I knew I belonged.”
His break came late in the 2007 season — against Arizona and Pro Bowl receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
“A good welcome to the league,” he said.
Despite rising to a Pro Bowl level himself, Grimes wasn’t able to cash in with a mega contract. Last year, the Falcons used their franchise tag on him, paying him $10.2 million on a one-year contract. Miami signed him for a reported $5.5 million. The fact it’s another one-year deal doesn’t eat at him.
“I don’t really worry about contracts,” he said. “That’s what I’ve got an agent for.”
While agents dealt with paperwork, Grimes got himself back in football shape while seeing Cincinnati cornerback Leon Hall and Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs rebound from Achilles’ injuries faster than what would have been possible just a few years ago.
“The toughest part of rehab was having to stay still,” Grimes said. “If you know me, I’m an active, running-around person.”
He was the kid on the block who for fun used to jump over cars (albeit, one presumes, parked ones). Because of the Achilles’, Grimes was forced to kick up his feet and play video games, but he also got to spend time with his family, including son Aiden, now 2, who stars with him in a YouTube video in which Dad teaches Son how to hop on one leg.
Football often pulled Grimes away during his son’s early days. “But now I got real close to him,” he said. “That was a positive.”
And another page out Brent Grimes’ silver linings playbook.
Philbin’s targets: Philbin explained that the club’s $117 million spending spree this offseason wasn’t part of a planned “extreme makeover” but rather targeting areas for improvement. They include allowing fewer explosive passes. Offensively, the Dolphins sought to become more explosive, plus improve on third downs, in the red zone and on the line.
Defense bonds: Defensive end Jared Odrick said he went to Game 5 of the Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers series with a group including Philip Wheeler, R.J. Stanford and Reshad Jones. Odrick said the idea came from defensive tackle Randy Starks, who is holding out for a long-term deal.
“Starks is so bored, so bored,” Odrick said. “I get a group text from him every five seconds. So it was his original idea, but we were waiting on a rookie to get down here, we wanted him to pay for our seats. We all got together as a group and said, ‘Hey, let’s do this.’ ”
Palm Beach Post staff writer Andrew Abramson contributed to this story.