RENTON -- Dion Jordan didn't need to be told that his rope would be short.
After missing two full seasons due to suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs and knee injuries, Jordan knew he wasn't going to have many more opportunities to make something in the NFL. If the former No. 3 overall pick was going to shine, the time to show it was at hand.
"I knew that," Jordan said this week. "This is my career, my life. I knew that already."
Jordan was adamant in his desire to recapture a career that nearly slipped away.
"The hunger to get out here, to just get my life back with football and everything was huge for me," Jordan said. "This is just the first step and I just feel really excited to be in a position that I am right now as a young man and as a football player. To come to a team like this and just be able to be embraced and embrace everything that this culture was built on."
Though his debut with the Seahawks was delayed until last week following additional knee surgeries this summer, Jordan made an immediate impression against the Arizona Cardinals.
Jordan played 33 defensive snaps and recorded a sack and three quarterback hits on Drew Stanton. His sack was particularly impressive as he drove left tackle John Wetzel right back into Stanton's lap before dropping the Arizona quarterback to the ground.
"That's two years of strength training right there," defensive end Frank Clark said. "That's two years of strength training and no football. That's what it do to you. I'm trying to get to that point too."
Added defensive coordinator Kris Richard: "He's got tremendous strength. He's got real heavy hands and when he puts his hands on people he knocks them back."
It was a small snapshot of the potential Jordan possessed when the Miami Dolphins selected him with the third overall pick out of the University of Oregon in 2013. However, Jordan never lived up to expectations with the Dolphins. He appeared in 26 career games and recorded just three sacks. He only started one game in two years with Miami.
"It’s tough man," Jordan said of his tenure in Miami. "I think my issue was I didn’t prepare myself, I didn’t game plan on what I was going to do once I became a professional, how I was going to deal with everything. I kind of just jumped right in and I just let everything happen to me instead of taking the reins and taking control of everything. It was tough on myself. I can’t lie. My mistakes showed."
Multiple drug suspensions wiped out his entire 2015 season. When he returned to the Dolphins in 2016, knee injuries kept him from playing outside of a lone preseason game. Miami released him in March after failing a physical.
Jordan signed with Seattle in April but required more knee surgeries after joining the Seahawks. He began the season on the non-football injury list and didn't take part in a single practice with the team until early November.
After two weeks of practice, the Chandler, Ariz. native suited up for the first time against the Cardinals and ended up playing a significant number of snaps in the second half.
"He really played more than we thought he would, he made some mistakes and was rusty with some stuff, and he’ll have a chance to make a bigger jump than other guys back around next time," head coach Pete Carroll said.
"He came out of the game feeling great, had a really good week of practice, and he feels almost like a rookie now. It’s a young guy that is kind of a raw player that we’re kind of figuring out where he fits and how we can utilize him and all of that, but he’s really hungry and his mentality is great. He’s been saving up a little bit, so we were happy to see him contribute."
The combination of size, speed and power that Jordan brings to the table is different than that of any other Seahawks' lineman. Clark, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril (when healthy) and Dwight Freeney are primarily reliant of speed, quickness and technique. Jordan's power is at a different threshold compared to his defensive end teammates.
"That's very unique. That's not something we see often. It's all a credit to the work that he's put in to be able to do that," Clark said of Jordan's strength. "It didn't happen overnight. He's been battling to get back to football conditioning and be able to do what he does best for the last two years."
Jordan is still learning and getting back into the full swing of playing football again. He's still not a finished product by any stretch.
That's also what makes his addition so intriguing. If the Seahawks can unlock the potential of the former top five pick, they may have found a serious contributor off the scrap heap. Jordan feels he's in the best position he's been in his entire career to capitalize on that potential.
“Of course, man. I really do,” Jordan said. “The hunger to get out here, to just get my life back with football and everything was huge for me. This is just the first step and I just feel really excited to be in a position that I am right now as a young man and as a football player. To come to a team like this and just be able to be embraced and embrace everything that this culture was built on.”