By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins attendance is on the rise. Ndamukong Suh showed up for practice Tuesday.
The $114 million defensive tackle drew attention for his absence from offseason training sessions in recent weeks, but he was on the field with the rest of his new teammates for the Dolphins’ first organized team activity.
Like the training sessions, attending OTAs is voluntary but strongly encouraged by coaches. Taking part was an easy decision, Suh said.
“It’s automatic,” he said. “You never miss practice. I don’t miss practice.”
In truth, Suh sometimes skipped voluntary workouts during his five years with the Detroit Lions, including minicamp in April 2014. That didn’t keep Miami from giving him a six-year contract in March that makes him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.
He took part in the Dolphins’ first training session last month, and the organization posted photos on social media of him lifting weights with teammates. But he soon left and had not been with the team recently.
Suh declined to discuss why he skipped training sessions.
“Next question,” he said.
Thanks to Suh, the Dolphins were able to report 100 percent participation at the first practice.
“Everything is voluntary,” coach Joe Philbin said. “We’ve told the team what we believe in in terms of the significance of the offseason program. We’re just happy that everybody was here today.”
Philbin declined to say whether he expects Suh to attend the nine remaining OTAs scheduled over the next 16 days.
“Again, it’s voluntary,” he said. “We’d love to have everybody here, but things happen. We coach the guys that are here.”
As with most teams at this time of year, optimism is high at Dolphins camp. Their busy offseason included the revamping of the receiving corps and a $77.7 million, four-year contract extension for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Suh never won a playoff game with the Lions, and the Dolphins haven’t been to the playoffs since 2008. But Suh endorsed the direction of his new team.
“This front office is something special,” Suh said. “I’m very excited to be part of this organization and this team. It’s a good situation we’re in. Now we’ve just got to put it together.”
Wearing No. 93, he lined up between Pro Bowl end Cameron Wake and veteran tackle Earl Mitchell, and said OTAs are a time for them to bond.
“It’s all about getting camaraderie and understanding who you’re playing next to, getting used to Earl and Cam and everybody else,” Suh said. “Whoever lines up next to me and whoever I line up next to, we always want to be somebody’s nightmare and cause havoc. That’s what we’re here to do.”
The three-time first-team All-Pro defensive tackle looked fit and active in his first practice with the Dolphins, making his way into the backfield several times.
“That’s what he does, right?” center Mike Pouncey said. “That’s why we gave him all that money”
Even in May, Suh said, he plays as fast as he can.
“If I’m going to make mistakes, I want to do it at full speed, and especially being in the background, er, the backfield.”
Suh misspoke about being in the background. His contract ensures that won’t happen, whether he shows up or not.
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve–Wine
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.