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KRYK: Dolphins rookie Holland most impactful Canadian NFLer at the midway

Coquitlam, B.C., native making big defensive plays literally all over the field, especially Thursday night against the Ravens

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This won’t come as a surprise if you happened to catch any of this week’s Thursday Night Football game, in which the Miami Dolphins upset the Baltimore Ravens by stone-cold shutting down their dangerous offence.

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But rookie Dolphins safety Jevon Holland already has been ballin’ out, as the players say, and is Postmedia’s top Canadian NFL player at the halfway mark of the 2021 season.

The native of Coquitlam, B.C., (he spent the first eight years of his life there before his family relocated to California) has played more snaps this season, by far, than any of the two dozen or so Canadian players currently employed in the NFL — 550.

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Holland has been the most impactful Canadian, too.

The 21-year-old has started seven of Miami’s nine games, playing about half the time up until Canadian Thanksgiving. Since then, he has been on the field more than any other Dolphins defender, missing only two snaps since Week 5.

Holland’s effectiveness seems to ascend by the game. The Dolphins hoped he’d be a fast learner when they drafted him early in the second round this past April, 36th overall, and he has not disappointed.

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Already, Holland has one interception, five pass breakups, one forced fumble, one recovered fumble, two tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, two sacks and 38 tackles.

He particularly shone in Thursday night’s spotlight game, as a key cog in Miami head coach and chief defensive strategist Brian Flores’ bold game plan to heavily blitz dangerous Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Flores often sent seven defenders, including defensive backs much of the time.

It worked. Marvelously.

Baltimore punted nine times and was held to three points until late in the game, in Miami’s authoritative 22-10 win. Holland not only had a sack, five QB pressures, two pass knockdowns and five tackles, but he blitzed 21 times.

Twenty-one!

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The NFL’s Next Gen Stats said no other NFL defensive back has blitzed that many times in a single game since 2016, when Next Gen Stats began tracking this statistic — meaning in the past 1,400-plus NFL games.

Next Gen Stats also determined that Holland played 40% of the time in the box (that is, close to the line of scrimmage, where the big uglies mash heads), 44% as a deep-dropping safety, 11% as inside slot cornerback, and 4% as traditional outside cornerback.

Literally, he was all over the field.

Such high-end versatility made Holland such a coveted prospect before the draft; he was the first safety selected, and many teams saw him as one of the top inside slot corners, too.

This is merely continuing the trend Holland began in college. He was a top-shelf playmaker at the University of Oregon, and with the Dolphins he, too, seems to thrive all the more with the more his coaches throw at him.

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“Man, it was a lot of fun,” Holland told reporters afterward on Thursday. “I had a blast out there. I really did … That’s the most fun I’ve ever had.”

Asked what it was like to be on a defence that bottled up one of the NFL’s most electric offensive performers practically for the entire game in Jackson, Holland repeated something he often says about football:

“It’s the TNTs — the ‘takes no talent’ (things). Doing a little bit extra. Do your job and then try to do some more. That’s basically what it is, and that’s what (NFL success) comes down to, the TNTs.”

Here are quick updates on how all the NFL players with birth or upbringing ties to Canada have fared so far:

ACTIVE 53-MAN ROSTER

(Ranked by most snaps this season to fewest, excluding special-teams snaps)

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  JEVON HOLLAND

Safety/cornerback, Miami, rookie

From: Coquitlam, B.C.

Snaps so far: 550

Starts so far: 7

Synopsis: Already has one interception, five pass breakups, one forced fumble, one recovered fumble, two tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, and two sacks.

CHASE CLAYPOOL

Wide receiver, Pittsburgh, second year

From: Abbotsford, B.C.

Snaps so far: 387

Starts so far: 6

Synopsis: Injuries have slowed his production: 29 catches for 433 yards and one TD. He has rushed six times for 56 yards.

BENJAMIN ST-JUSTE

Cornerback, Washington, rookie

From: Montreal

Snaps so far: 318

Starts so far: 3

Synopsis: Started the last three games, but even before then played more than half the time. Has three pass breakups and 26 tackles.

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  TEVAUGHN CAMPBELL

Cornerback, Los Angeles Chargers, third year

From: Toronto

Snaps so far: 304

Starts so far: 2

Synopsis: Sees the field a lot again in ’21, either as slot corner or as backup outside. Has two forced fumbles and two pass breakups.

CHRISTIAN COVINGTON

Defensive lineman, L.A. Chargers, seventh year

Hometown: Vancouver

Snaps so far: 302

Starts so far: 2

Synopsis: An integral member of the Chargers’ D-line rotation. Has one sack, a tackle-for-loss and 28 tackles.

CHUBA HUBBARD

Running back, Carolina Panthers, rookie

From: Edmonton

Snaps so far: 278

Starts so far: 5

Synopsis: Played a lot when Christian McCaffrey was on IR. Has 394 rush yards for two TDs, plus 19 catches for 152 yards.

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NATHAN SHEPHERD

Defensive lineman, New York Jets, fourth year

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From: Ajax, Ont.

Snaps so far: 197

Starts so far:

Synopsis: As a backup in eight games Shepherd has three QB hits and eight tackles. This is the last year of his rookie contract.

ANTONY (TONY) AUCLAIR

Tight end, Houston Texans, fifth year

From: Notre-Dame-des-Pins, Que.

Snaps so far: 182

Starts so far: 7

Synopsis: Began season on the practice squad. Now on active roster. In nine games has three catches, including his first career TD.

BRENT URBAN

Defensive lineman, Dallas Cowboys, seventh year

From: Mississauga, Ont.

Snaps so far: 161

Starts so far: 4

Synopsis: Has been on IR the past two games (triceps). His role is as a run-plugger. He has one tackle and has knocked down a pass.

JOSH PALMER

Wide receiver, L.A. Chargers, rookie

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From: Brampton, Ont.

Snaps so far: 123

Starts so far:

Synopsis: Has played in eight games. Justin Herbert has targeted him 13 times, for nine connections worth 104 yards and one TD.

N’KEAL HARRY

Wide receiver, New England Patriots, third year

From: Toronto-born but raised in U.S., Caribbean

Snaps so far: 115

Starts so far: 1

Synopsis: Since returning from shoulder injury suffered in August, has five catches for 77 yards and no TDs in five games.

  MICHAEL HOECHT

Defensive lineman, Los Angeles Rams, second year

From: Oakville, Toronto, Ottawa before Ohio upbringing

Snaps so far: 103

Starts so far: 3

Synopsis: Plays a lot of special teams, otherwise backs up on one of the NFL’s best D-lines. Has two tackles.

DAVID ONYEMATA

Defensive tackle, New Orleans Saints, sixth year

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From: Lagos, Nigeria but attended U of Manitoba

Snaps so far: 64

Starts so far: 2

Synopsis: Was suspended for first six games (PED violation), but already has 2 QB hits, 1 fumble recovery and seven tackles.

AMEN OGBONGBEMIGA

Linebacker, L.A. Chargers, rookie

Hometown: Laos/Houston/Calgary

Snaps so far: 44

Starts so far: 1

Synopsis: What a story. Cracked active roster as an undrafted free agent. Has played in six games, registering 10 tackles.

AJ (ALARIC) JACKSON

Offensive tackle, Los Angeles Rams, rookie

Hometown: Windsor, Ont., until high school in Detroit

Snaps so far: 9

Starts so far:

Synopsis: Has played in one game, on Halloween at Houston.

DAKODA SHEPLEY

Centre, Seattle Seahawks, second year

From : Windsor, Ont.

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Snaps so far:

Starts so far:

Synopsis: Claimed off waivers in September, the UBC grad has played in five games, taking snaps (21) only on special teams so far.

LAURENT DUVERNAY-TARDIF

Guard, New York Jets, eighth year

From: Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que.

Snaps so far:

Starts so far:

Synopsis: Dressed only once in K.C. before his trade last week. Expected to challenge for playing time, and maybe start.

LIRIM HAJRULLAHU

Placekicker, Dallas Cowboys, second year

From : Raised in St. Catharines, Ont., via Malta

Snaps so far:

Starts so far:

Synopsis: Signed on Wednesday to the Cowboys’ practice squad, and all but certain to be elevated to play Sunday vs. Atlanta, what with regular kicker Greg Zuerlein on COVID-19/reserve. It would be the former long-time CFL star’s NFL debut.

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ALSO:

  • Neville Gallimore of Ottawa, a second-year Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle, has been on injured reserve all season with a dislocated elbow.
  • Ryan Hunter of North Bay, Ont., is a fourth-year guard on the L.A. Chargers practice squad.
  • Carter O’Donnell of Red Deer, Alta., is a second-year offensive tackle on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad.
  • J.J. Molson of Montreal is a second-year placekicker on Green Bay’s practice squad.
  • Pier-Olivier Lestage of Saint-Eustache, Que., is a rookie guard on Seattle’s practice squad.
  • Brett Jones of Weyburn, Sask., is on Denver’s season-long IR with a biceps injury.
  • Rysen John of Vancouver is on the New York Giants’ season-long IR with an ankle injury.
  • Eli Ankou of Ottawa is a journeyman NFL backup nose tackle in his fifth year who had a short practice-squad stint last month in Pittsburgh but is currently a free agent.
  • Bruno Labelle of Montreal, an undrafted rookie tight end, was waived/injured by Arizona in September. Green Bay gave him a tryout. He’s still a free agent.
  • L.P. Ladouceur of Montreal was the Cowboys’ long snapper for 16 years. Still a free agent, still anxious to play.

JoKryk@postmedia.com

@JohnKryk

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