DAVIE, Fla. — Not long ago, Miami Dolphins safety Louis Delmas clutched his right knee, writhing in pain after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the second-half of a 28-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 7.
At the time, the injury was supposed to sideline Miami’s fiery defensive back for roughly 9-12 months, but that timetable has since been thrown out as the motivated veteran continues to work tirelessly in an effort to return to action.
When asked for an update on his rehab process in March, Delmas insisted that he was already ahead of schedule in his recovery.
“I know myself,” Delmas said shortly after re-signing with the Dolphins.. “I’ve been dealing with knee injuries throughout my whole career. I know when I’m susceptible to it and I know when I’m not.
“I know when I’m ahead of the game and I know when I need to step it up a little more. My rehab is going great, I’m feeling great and I’m looking forward to the future.”
On Tuesday, a determined Delmas showed just how far he has come in a very short period of time when he took the field with his teammates — upbeat and without the aid of a knee brace on the first day of Miami’s organized team activities.
“It feels great,” said Delmas, who was active enough to break a sweat during a fairly overcast day at Doctors Hospital Facility. “The training staff and the coaching staff have being doing a great job, a phenomenal job of getting me prepared to start OTAs off the right way, and I think today was a start in a positive direction.”
Throughout the two-hour, no-contact practice, Delmas was held out of several drills, but looked no worse for wear while backpedaling and making cuts with his fellow defensive backs, including cornerback Will Davis, who is also recovering from an ACL injury.
“They’re moving around well,” head coach Joe Philbin said of Delmas and Davis. “We’re going to have a nice progression for them and take that through and make sure there are no setbacks. I think they are progressing very well at this point in time.”
Barring an unforeseen setback, Delmas will see an increased workload during Miami’s mandatory minicamp in June and, if all goes well, is expected to be a full participant at training camp in July.
If it were up to Delmas, though, he’d already be going full speed.
“I feel 100 (percent),” Delmas said confidently. “The coaching staff and the training staff are going to do a great job of maintaining me and making sure I don’t recover faster than I should recover. I am coming out here and doing everything, but I definitely trust the coaching staff and the training staff to direct me in the right path and make sure I’m 100 (percent) come gameday.”
There’s no doubt in Delmas’ mind that he’ll be on the roster when Miami kicks off its 2015 campaign in Washington D.C. against the Redskins, and the team should benefit greatly from his return.
The Dolphins ranked sixth in yards allowed and seventh in scoring defense with Delmas in the lineup last season, while also giving up the the third-fewest passing yards in the league.
A vocal leader in the secondary, Delmas recorded 63 tackles, one sack, one interception (which he returned for an 81-yard touchdown) and two fumble recoveries in 13 games before his injury.
The Delmas of last season, however, is no more.
With a new, incentive-laden, one-year deal in hand, he has not only shed the concerns over his injury, but also his signature dreadlocks that, according to Delmas, has left his helmet feeling a little spacious.