Last year, Jason Taylor returned to the team he was drafted by after one year in the Big Apple for what proved to be his last season in the NFL. Now Westerman, entering his fourth season, trades colors in one of the league’s most heated rivalries.
“I’m excited to get down to Miami and get to work. It’s kind of crazy seeing the rivalry from both sides,” said Westerman, who was Taylor’s teammate in 2010 and is coming off of his best season. “A lot of you don’t get to see it. I have the opportunity to see it. I saw it from the Jets side now I get to see it from the Dolphins side.
“I think the whole AFC East is tough. I think when you play an AFC East team you got your work cut out for you. Most of the teams are hardnosed teams. If you look at last year the Bills beat the Patriots, Miami beat the Jets and the Jets beat Miami. There’s no easy way through any of those games. Every time you step up to an AFC East game you’ve got to bring your lunch pail.”
Westerman played one season of high school football in Fort Lauderdale at St. Thomas Aquinas so this is sort of a homecoming for him. The fact he signed with another AFC East team should benefit him in six of Miami’s 16 regular-season games in 2012.
During his visit with Head Coach Joe Philbin, General Manager Jeff Ireland, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and defensive line coach Kacy Rogers, Westerman developed a comfort level with what his perceived role is going to be. At 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, he fits the mold of outside linebacker when in a 3-4 alignment but also can be effective at defensive end in a 4-3.
“When I went down there to visit the defense and talk to the defensive coaches I was excited to see how the defense was moving a little more with a multiple front,” Westerman said. “They told me my role would be defensive end, outside linebacker and use my ability to play a lot of different spots on the defense to move around a little bit and show my versatility and my athleticism. I’m going to try to work with Coach Coyle and the D-line coach and really get after it this year.”
There could also be a role for the 27-year-old Westerman on special teams, where he excelled in New York. He played for special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi in college at Rutgers so Rizzi knows his personality and skill set very well.
Westerman’s familiarity with Rizzi and the good impressions he came away with from his meeting with Philbin, Ireland, Coyle and the staff helped make his decision to sign with the Dolphins an easy one. He is looking to expand on his 49 career tackles (36 solo), 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
“Miami is a great place to live, but I want to get down there and help the team win the best way I can,” Westerman said.
He’ll get that chance starting a few months from now.