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Dion Jordan returns to the NFL on Thursday

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The most recent picture of defensive end Dion Jordan in our USA Today editor is the one you see above, and it’s from last December. But the most possible recent picture you could find of Jordan in a uniform in game action would come from December of 2014.

Minnesota Vikings v Miami Dolphins Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Here he is seen celebrating a sack (#95) of Teddy Bridgewater on December 21st, 2014. Who could have guessed that Jordan would play the following week against the New York Jets, and then not again for nearly three years. That drought is expected to end on Thursday when the Seattle Seahawks take on the Arizona Cardinals in Phoenix.

Jordan will be activated to the 53-man roster and is expected to take part on special teams, perhaps also on some defensive snaps. That’s 1,047 days between snaps.

The third overall pick in 2013, one selection after current Seahawks guard Luke Joeckel, Jordan has been a bust both on and off the field. He recorded just three sacks in 26 games, making one start in his time with Miami. He was also busted several times for taking performance-enhancing drugs, leading him to suspensions that cost him most of the last two seasons, but he also just fell out of favor with the Dolphins which is another reason he hasn’t played in over 1,000 days.

Jordan also had surgery on a torn labrum leading up to the draft and failed a physical with the Dolphins in March just before they released him. He has been on the NFI list all season long after multiple knee surgeries in the offseason, but appears to be healthy enough to play now. Seattle will need the additional help after Marcus Smith suffered a concussion on Sunday.

Jordan is still just 27, but he has a long ways to go to prove himself before there’s any assurance that he’ll still be in the NFL at 28. It’s a credit to his perseverance at least that he’s getting another shot on Thursday. Now he needs to help the Seahawks win a very important football game.