'Big Daddy' Excited

Defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson met the South Florida media after Monday morning's practice, which he watched from the sidelines. Wilkinson, who signed a three-year contract with Miami, says it won't take him long to be ready. Here's what else Wilkinson had to say.

Q. Do you still go by "Big Daddy," and when did you get that name?

Dan Wilkinson: "I can't shake that name. I've been carrying that since seventh grade. Most people just call me Dan, Dan or Daniel, that's fine with me."

Q. You know, you might have to fight Shaq for the nickname?

DW: "Oh no, he can have it. It's all his."

Q. What brought you down here?

DW: "I've been looking at several different teams, but the Dolphins fit the best. I mean, this is a team that's right there to make that next big step. I definitely want to be a part of that. Playing 12 years in the NFL, this is my 13th going into, I've been to the playoffs one time. This is a grand opportunity. This is a team that's right there with the right nucleus, right players and the right coaching staff to take it to the next championship level. And what better way to finish my career?"

Q. Were you close to retirement, wouldn't you?

DW: "Well, I wouldn't say pretty close to retirement, but Detroit just didn't fit. They brought in a coaching staff and just a change of philosophy, it was just time for me to leave there."

Q. Did you think after Detroit of calling it a career?

DW: "No, right after Detroit let me go I received many phone calls from teams that we interested. I wasn't in no big rush. It gave me an opportunity, really, to kind of sit back and spend some time with my family and just kind of heal my body, which always is helpful. When I was released by the Redskins, having that extra time actually really went well for me, physically and mentally. Now, I'm refreshed, I'm back, I'm excited and what better position to be in."

Q. How long will it take you to get out there?

DW: "About two or three days. Just getting acclimated. I ran pretty good today, which was a good conditioning test and a couple of days of football drills and moving around, I'll be ready. I've been playing long enough, it doesn't take much."

Q. What was the final hurdle that was cleared that made you decide now was the time to sign?

DW: "I still had time, a couple of weeks of preseason games and couple of weeks of training camp. Now's the time to really get in and get ready for Pittsburgh, and that's my main focus, come in to be able to contribute and help the team get to that next level. And now is the perfect time for that."

Q. Are you looking at this as a long-term commitment instead of just a one-year deal?

DW: "I've been very fortunate and very blessed throughout my career not to have any significant injuries and to remain strong throughout my career, so I don't see why this is any different. I've been very fortunate to stay healthy throughout my career and I look for that to continue."

Q. Can you talk about where you are at this point in your career? Do you consider yourself someone who can still dominate the line of scrimmage?

DW: "I can definitely still come in here and dominate the line of scrimmage, no question. That's all been my strength and my game, and that will continue. I'm healthy and I'm strong and when I get on the field that will carry over."

Q. What other teams showed interest?

DW: "Five, six other teams. I don't want to go through the whole list just now."

Q. OK, how about a couple of them?

DW: "Green Bay, Oakland, Philly, Baltimore, a couple others, Green Bay, couple teams."

Q. How much will it help having all those veterans on the D-line where you can rotate?

DW: "Oh, it's huge, playing with a group of veterans like this. It makes it so much easier. And they've got a couple of young pups that need to get tutored and kind of helped along. Me playing with a veteran line, that's great for me because I know where everybody's going to be and they're going to know where I'm going to be, and I'll be in a position to produce and help the team."

Q. Was being able to skip the first two weeks of training camp one of the reasons you didn't sign before?

DW: "No, it's really just kind of taking back and looking at all my options and looking at the best situation for me. I came down here on a visit a couple of months ago and it went extremely well. This just continued to be when I looked at all my options, this continued to be the best fit and the best opportunity."

Q. What are your impressions of Nick Saban?

DW: "I met and talked with Coach Saban on many occasions, and I like him a lot. He's a straightforward, no-nonsense guy. His wealth of knowledge as a football coach and on the defensive side of the ball is just something that's really exciting and I'm looking forward to playing under it."

Q. What was it like meeting your new teammates?

DW: "You know what, moving from different teams, it kind of refreshes you again. You get stuck in the same system over a while, you kind of get complacent and you kind of get in the same old rut. But this definitely feels refreshing. This feels like I'm 22 again, like again, fortunately I've been very healthy throughout my career and I'm looking forward to getting going."


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