DAVIE, Fla. (AP) – Rookie receiver Jarvis Landry says the NFL’s not much different from the Southeastern Conference, and his rapid progress with the Miami Dolphins suggests he might be right.
The former Louisiana State star was promoted to the first team on the depth chart this week, solidifying his status after he was one of three starting wideouts in the past two games.
Landry’s ascent is especially impressive because receiver was the Dolphins’ deepest position in training camp. Among those he overtook was Brandon Gibson, a six-year veteran with 211 career catches.
”I’m not satisfied,” Landry said. ”I continue to work like somebody is in front of me. Who takes the field first doesn’t matter. It’s about the guy who makes the plays.”
Landry has become that kind of guy. He enters Sunday’s game at Jacksonville ranked second on the team to Mike Wallace with 22 catches for 232 yards, and scored his first career touchdown in Game 5 against Green Bay. Landry has been targeted as often as Brian Hartline, a 1,000-yard receiver each of the past two years and with better results.
For the Dolphins, who have endured a succession of draft busts in recent years, Landry is a rare rookie. But he came into the NFL confident he could succeed.
”That’s me,” he said. ”That’s one of the edges I play with.”
While Landry benefited from self-assurance, some doubted his speed when the Dolphins took him in the second round. But he has showed explosiveness on kickoff returns with runbacks of 74, 54 and 35 yards, and ranks second in the league with an average of 31.2 on 15 returns.
Playing for the Dolphins isn’t much different than playing for LSU, Landry said. And that doesn’t surprise him.
”The SEC got me ready for the game speed and the caliber of guys I would face week in and week out,” he said.
Even so, Landry said his rookie season has been an education.
”I’m just always constantly learning and picking up on little things, even from defensive guys,” he said.
Landry was part of the most prolific receiving tandem in LSU history. The other half of that duo, his close friend Odell Beckham Jr., missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury but has three touchdown catches as a rookie with the New York Giants.
”I’ve been talking to him,” Landry said. ”On FaceTime we talk as much as we can about how crazy it has been, and how fun it is. We’re both thankful for the opportunity.”
New teammate Wallace has Louisiana ties, too – he’s a native of New Orleans. He and Landry have quickly bonded.
”That’s my brother, man,” Wallace said. ”We work hard in the weight room. We’ve got to bring the pain to them before they get to us. We’re going to do that throughout the year, try to impose our will.”
Landry said he’s learning to match Wallace’s intensity on game day.
”Us Louisiana boys get a little riled up,” Landry said.
He complements the speedy Wallace with a physical style and willingness to catch the ball in traffic, which has made him effective in the slot.
Over the past three games, Landry has caught 14 of the 17 passes directed his way. Such efficiency has been a boost to the Dolphins (3-3), who have averaged nearly 30 points during that span.
Landry won praise on many fronts from coach Joe Philbin.
”His play speed is really outstanding,” Philbin said Thursday. ”He plays fast. He’s decisive. He’s displayed good hands. He’s dependable. He can go across the middle. There’s a term we like to use: He’s a football player. The opportunities he’s had, he has taken advantage of. We like what he’s done. His upside is good.”
Landry said there’s still room for improvement, and he smiled when asked about his potential.
”As the offense goes, I go,” he said. ”The sky is the limit for the offense. Include me in it.”