Who knew? Dolphins have their own ‘Honey Badger' on the defensive coaching staff
The Dolphins continued to retool their linebacking corps Monday, adding two veterans who were part-time starters in their previous stops and aren’t exactly arriving in South Florida uncertain of what they’re getting into.
Brennan Scarlett, who started four games for Houston last season, was college teammates at Cal with Austin Clark. Normally when old college teammates reunite on the NFL level, they play alongside one another. Except Clark is the Dolphins’ defensive line coach.
“You talk about a player with some grit, A.C. had some grit,” Scarlett said.
So much so that Clark had a nickname.
“He was the Honey Badger,” Scarlett said. “That’s what we called him back then. There was Tyrann Mathieu and then there was Austin Clark.”
Duke Riley started half the games for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, also at outside linebacker. He joins a list of free agents arriving in Miami because of coach Brian Flores.
“I met with him during the recruiting process back in 2017 coming out in the draft, so we’ve sat and talked before,” Riley said. “I’m just excited to play for a guy like him. He’s going to bring the best out of everyone.”
Scarlett, 27, is a 6-foot-4, 263-pounder who joins receiver Will Fuller and fellow linebacker Benardrick McKinney, who was obtained via trade, on the Houston-to-Miami pipeline this offseason. Scarlett, who made 28 tackles last year, said he and the Dolphins haven’t discussed specifics on what his role might be here. Scarlett played 287 defensive snaps (26 percent) and 162 special teams snaps (36 percent) for the Texans in 2020.
Scarlett is one of the rare players to have worn a uniform for both Cal and rival Stanford. After graduating from Cal, he opted to pursue a master’s degree in engineering at Stanford.
“Stanford was an opportunity there,” Scarlett said. “I had to go about 45 minutes south and was lucky enough to pursue my master’s degree. … Education is important to me. I love to challenge myself in every area of life and Stanford did that for sure. But I got through it.”
Riley, 26, is 6-1, 230 and was Atlanta’s third-round pick out of LSU in 2017. He had 55 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and half of a sack last year, when his defensive snap count jumped from 29 in 2019 to 569, in addition to 255 special teams snaps.
“I look at any time I’m on the field that any opportunity I’ve got is everything,” Riley said. “So that’s why I was able to get on defense because I was able to make plays on special teams and be noticed.”