Cornerback Byron Jones became the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL when he signed with the Dolphins. (Craig Davis for Fivereasonssports.com)

Newest Dolphins discuss why they signed with Miami

They are the new faces on the Miami Dolphins, and they are excited to be coming to South Florida.

That’s what newly signed cornerback Byron Jones, running back Jordan Howard, versatile defender Kyle Van Noy and the other players who joined the Dolphins via free agency last week said Thursday on a media teleconference call.

“What really brought me to Miami was the idea of joining a young team and being a leader on that team. Being a catalyst for cultural change and helping this team,” said Jones, the most notable of the newcomers. “They’ve got a bunch of ballers on that roster.

“I am fired up to play for Miami. This is a young team that is going in the right direction.”

Defensive lineman Emmanual Ogbah, who last played for the Kansas City Chiefs, said coach Brian Flores reputation as a leader of defense was a big draw for him.

“He’s a defensive coach and he inspires his players. He came from the Patriots, so he knows to win,” Ogbah said. “So I’m just excited to come out here and do my part to help the team win. I’m excited to be coached up by one of the best.”

Flores attracted free agents

Jones also made it clear that Flores was a big reason why he chose the Dolphins:

“In talking with him on the phone after I signed, he’s a young coach and I love that. He’s got young energy. I hear he’s intense and likes to create competitive scenarios and situations. It’s just something that I like and want to be a part of it.”

“I heard a lot of good things about him throughout the league. I spoke to a couple of coaches and players and they had nothing but good things to say about him. So that’s exciting for me, just to be on the team that he’s leading.”

Jones said he is looking forward to pair with Xavien Howard, the most expensive cornerback duo in the NFL.

“The most important part is just really having no weak links,” Jones said. “Teams don’t just have one good receiver, they have multiple. We just want to be able to match up to some of their best assets and disrupt that as much as we can.”

Howard set to power running game

Among the additions on offense, former Eagle Jordan Howard said he can bring an essential element that was missing from the Dolphins’ running game last season.

“I’m rugged,” Howard said. “I’m physical. I like to make the defenders feel me. I’d rather hit them then have then hit me. I definitely try to make them quit. That way in the fourth quarter, they don’t really want to tackle me.”

Howard played only one snap in the final seven games with Philadelphia because of a shoulder injury. He said he is healthy now.

“It took a while but finally back to 100. Can’t wait to get back to playing football,” he said.

Howard, who has 3,895 yards in four NFL seasons (three with the Bears, one with the Eagles), spoke about his influence as a ball carrier

“I’ve always liked watching Marshawn Lynch,” Howard said. “The way he ran. He never gave up. And he fought for every yard. He made it a struggle for the defenders to bring him down.”

That was conspicuously lacking from the Dolphins’ running backs in 2019, when veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team in rushing.

Influx of former Patriots

The Dolphins’ free agent signings have gotten mixed reviews nationally. But the additions of veteran players who are under 30 and in the prime of their careers has significantly upgrade the talent on the roster even before the upcoming draft, in which Miami has 14 picks.

Many of them bring the experience of playing on winning teams, including several former New England Patriots: Van Noy, linebacker Elandon Roberts and center Ted Karras.

Van Noy said he anticipated playing a similar role as he did in New England when Flores dirfectred the defense before moving to the Dolphins in 2019.

“I envision that I’ll be playing everywhere like I have been. I don’t really consider myself having a position. I don’t like being called a D-end or a linebacker. I’m just a football player. You roll the ball out onto the field, I’m showing up.

“I feel like my versatility will be able to be a matchup problem for any coach because you never know where I’m going to line up and match up against. And I feel like I can be a leader to this team. I just want to win.”

A shift in the East

Regarding his former team, Van Noy said, “I think they’ll always be the Patriots with the kind of players they have up there. Obviously, losing a quarterback is tough, but they still have a really good set of football players up there that are going to be hungry to prove to a lot of people that they’re still in it. That’s what they do up there.”

As for that quarterback, Van Noy said he wasn’t surprised to see Tom Brady leave New England for Tampa Bay.

“I feel like he got what he deserves,” Van Noy said. “I hope the best for him. I think he’s going to be good in Tampa. I’m just glad he’s in the NFC.”

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns.

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