Posted: 5:35 pm Thursday, July 15th, 2010
By Post Staff
The rehab for veteran nose tackle Jason Ferguson was seemingly going according to plan.
He didn’t participate fully during the Dolphins’ offseason program in May and June, just seven months after suffering a season-ending injury to his quadriceps, but he was out there every day, riding the stationary bike or practicing with his teammates.
Ferguson, 35, was suspended for the first eight games of the regular season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy for a second time, but he talked excitedly during mini-camp about coming back fresh for the second half of the season and giving the Dolphins’ defense a jolt. He even tweeted Wednesday afternoon, “jus (sic) a Lil excited bout our up coming season.”
But something changed on Thursday, when Ferguson, a 13-year NFL veteran, announced his retirement, just two weeks before the start of the 2010 season.
“You get what you put into this game. I would like to thank my family, the fans and the organizations that I have been a part of for their continued support throughout my career, it’s been an absolute blessing to play this long,” Ferguson said in a statement. “I have built a lot of relationships, you develop an extended family playing this game; I would like to thank that extended family, the teammates, the coaches, the support staffs that have all played a part of a great ride.”
Ferguson had 21.5 sacks in 159 games with 128 starts for the Jets, Cowboys and Dolphins, following Bill Parcells every step along the way.
“Jason was a key contributor on three different teams for many years at one of the NFL’s toughest jobs,” Parcells said in a statement. “I am grateful and I will miss him.”
Ferguson’s retirement leaves the Dolphins a bit thin at nose tackle, leaving Randy Starks, Paul Soliai and undrafted rookie Travis Ivey as the top three on the depth chart.
Starks, who stands 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, is a converted defensive end and is considered undersized at nose tackle while Soliai has not recorded a sack in his first three NFL seasons, and at 355 pounds has struggled with weight issues throughout his career. Soliai may not have made the team out of training camp, but Ferguson’s retirement may have solidified his roster spot.
“I am still in shock that he will not be sitting next to me in team meetings and practicing with us when camp opens,” Soliai said in a statement posted on his agent’s website. “He has been like a big brother to me and has taught me how to be a professional and become a better man. He will be tremendously missed this coming season.”