Safety Jones skips Dolphins minicamp in contract dispute
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones' push for a new contract with the Miami Dolphins is now costing him money.
Jones skipped the start of the Dolphins' mandatory minicamp Tuesday, and could be fined up to $76,000 if he misses all three sessions this week. His absence was expected after he also sat out Miami's organized team activities, which were voluntary.
First-year coach Adam Gase tried to defuse any drama from the impasse, perhaps in the hope of keeping any negotiations amicable. He said there's no rush for the six-year veteran to report, even with a new defense to learn.
''Cover three is cover three,'' Gase said. ''Maybe there is a different term for it for every team, but guys like that who have experience understand defense. So as far as him being able to learn the playbook, that would be zero concern for me.''
New defensive coordinator Vance Joseph wants his safeties to play both the strong and free positions, however, which will be a change for Jones.
''Vance Joseph wants a bunch of guys who are versatile who can play both sides,'' safety Michael Thomas said with a grin. ''He has a lot of stuff planned.''
Also absent from the first mandatory practice were defensive ends Mario Williams and Jason Jones, both newcomers. They were excused for personal reasons.
Among those lining up on defense was four-time Pro Bowl end Cameron Wake, who underwent season-ending surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon seven months ago. The 34-year-old Wake declined to say how close he is to 100 percent, but said he never feared the injury might force him to retire.
''It's another obstacle to overcome,'' he said. ''I've been doing it my whole career. I wouldn't expect this to be any different.''
''He's Superman,'' teammate Ndamukong Suh said.
Receiver DeVante Parker, who battled a foot issue for much of his rookie season last year, was held out of drills - although Gase second-guessed the decision with refreshing candor.
''I kind of screwed that up,'' the rookie coach said. ''I'm just being a little cautious. I probably just need to let him roll. I got soft and kept him out of practice today. The trainers cleared him to go. I botched that one.''
Those comments reflected the relaxed mood at camp, which even Jones' absence failed to dampen.
''Reshad is Reshad,'' linebacker Koa Misi said. ''He's going to do what he needs to do. We're going to concentrate on what guys we have here.''
Jones was the only NFL player with at least five interceptions and 100 tackles last year, and often says he's the best safety in the NFL. He's entering the third season of a $28 million, four-year deal, with a base salary of $7.2 million this year.
Last week Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith signed a five-year contract extension with an annual average value of $10.25 million. Smith and Jones both made the Pro Bowl for the first time last year.
Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor held out last year through the first two games of the season and has still not gotten a deal to replace a $28 million, four-year contract that took effect in 2014.
It's uncertain whether Jones might sit out the start of training camp next month. Thomas and Walt Aikens are the only other experienced safeties on the roster.
But Thomas isn't worried about his teammate having to play catch-up.
''I'm confident in his skill set that whenever he decides to show up, he'll be fine,'' Thomas said.
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