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Jermon Bushrod’s first year with the Dolphins involved some significant changes for the veteran offensive lineman, but more importantly it re-ignited his love for the game.
The 2016 season left little doubt to Bushrod he wanted to keep playing, a drastic change from last offseason when he toyed with the idea of retirement before the Dolphins came calling.
When he cleaned out his locker the day after the playoff loss at Pittsburgh, Bushrod made it clear he wanted to return to the Dolphins and now he has gotten his wish.
“It’s good to be back,” Bushrod said after re-signing with Miami as an unrestricted free agent. “They’re building something special here and I was itching to be a part of it. We got it done. My family is happy, I’m happy and we’re going to be ready to go.”
Bushrod’s first season with the Dolphins was his 10th in the league but it marked the first time he was not a left tackle.
The Dolphins brought him in to play guard and he started all 16 games, plus the playoff game at that position.
Bushrod admits moving to a new position was a challenge.
“It was quite the adjustment, but at the end of the day they brought me in here for a reason and I was all in,” he said. “Last year we were dealing with the shoulder (injury from 2015) and getting back right and learning a new position; now, the body is feeling good. I’m feeling good this offseason and we’re going to be able to work on some position-specific stuff and just build on some of the success we had last year and correct some weaknesses and fight to get better on a daily basis.”
Bushrod, who will turn 33 in August, will be counted on again in 2017 to provide veteran leadership for a Dolphins offensive line that includes Mike Pouncey, Ja’Wuan James, Laremy Tunsil, Kraig Urbik, Anthony Steen, Sam Young and recent free agent acquisition Ted Larsen.
For Bushrod, having a year of experience at guard should make a considerable different in his comfort level.
“I know what I’m getting myself into,” Bushrod said. “Last year was just kind of the land of the unknown. I knew how to play tackle. Guard is a little bit different technique, different guys, different body styles, different techniques you have to use to have success. Going forward, I’m going to study that tape. I’ve been studying the tape and finding ways I can get better. I’m looking forward to the task at hand with the rest of the guys on the line.”
Bushrod, who reiterated it was “good to be back” at the end of his one-on-one interview with dolphins.com, says he’s feeling a sense of excitement around the organization sparked by the memorable run in 2016.
“The way we were able to keep things going last year and the way we turned it around, as a team, as an organization, we’ve got to feed off that, we have to build off that,” Bushrod said. “That was one of the major reasons I wanted to come back. My family loves it here, wife loves it here, kids love it here. South Florida is a good place to be and this coaching staff and the guys that they brought in, the guys that we had, you gotta be excited.”