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Watch Jerome Baker. That will tell you everything you need to know about this new Miami Dolphins defense. Everyone wonders how this multi-package defense will work, how many defensive backs will be used and where certain players fit.

Watch Baker. He’s past the surprise of his new and expanded role by now on this defense. He’s cherishing it. That’s not a word you hear enough in sports, but it’s the one Baker picks.

“I cherish every minute out there, cherish everything about what’s going on,’’ the Dolphins linebacker said.

No one knows just how Minkah Fitzpatrick will be employed or who the cornerback opposite Xavien Howard will end up being. But here’s what is firmly settled: Who’s calling the defense. And more importantly why he is.

It’s OK if you’re surprised Baker, the second-year linebacker who played a platoon role as a rookie, suddenly is the big man on defense.

Who makes the cut: Quarterbacks (2) — On: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen; Off: Jake Rudock
Who makes the cut: Quarterbacks (2) — On: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen; Off: Jake Rudock
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s experience level, mastery of the offense and his leadership should allow him to begin the regular season as Miami’s starter. But don’t be surprised when Josh Rosen (3) takes over around midseason if Fitzpatrick (14) isn’t leading Miami to a winning record. Jake Rudock can be developed on the practice squad. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

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It surprised him, too. He simply went in to introduce himself to the new coaches last February, starting with linebacker coach Rob Leonard. Somewhere in their talk he was asked how his communication skills were and if he could call signals.

“Any player would say, ‘Yeah, no problem,’ like I did,’’ Baker said. “I didn’t really think anything about it.”

Next he met safety coach Tony Oden. He asked Baker the same question about calling the defense. Then he saw defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who upped the ante, saying, “We’re thinking of having you call signals.”

This was before any practice, any meeting or any full conversation at all. Baker understood by this point it was more than a casual thought.

“The last person I met is coach Flo,’’ he said of Brian Flores. “He said, ‘we [see] you out there every down, and we want you there calling the signals.’ ”

But calling plays isn’t the big story. It’s why he’s calling them. Baker figured it out as this new defense was installed.

“I learned I’m out there pretty much every package,’’ he said. “There are a lot of changing looks, a lot of changing [personnel]. I’m out there.”

For so long, the 6-1, 225-pound linebacker was told he’s too short, too light, just too all-around small to be more than a third-down player specializing in coverage. “Jerome Baker, athlete, not football player,’’ NFL draft analyst Jon Ledyard tweeted in a phrase that still resonates with Baker.

Now look at him in this new Dolphins defense. If Howard is the risen star, Baker might be second as far as most important. Last year, he simply needed to know what he did in a defense. Both outside linebackers had similarly simple roles, he said. They played gaps. They blitzed. They covered. Now?

Josh Rosen (3) produced an eye-opening 99-yard touchdown drive in Miami’s 22-7 preseason win over the Jaguars last week, and it strengthened the argument to start him over veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. His 96.7 passer rating, and the 23-yards he gained on four carries indicates that he might be capable of leading the Dolphins to wins. A good performance against the Saints backups could produce a strong closing argument. (Taimy Alvarez / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

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“I’ve got to know everything and what everyone around me is doing,’’ he said. “I’ve done everything but play cornerback.”

Defensive tackle?

“Anywhere on the line, anywhere at linebacker,’’ he said. “And you could say in some times I’m the safety.”

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He’s also been asked to learn offenses from blocking schemes to offensive line calls. In the Tampa preseason game, he heard the center call “5-0,” and knew that scheme meant the running back would be responsible to block him on a blitz.

He beat the running back to the spot and ran in free on quarterback Jameis Winston and missed the sack.

“People were like, ‘Hey, you timed up that blitz,’ ‘’ Baker said. “That wasn’t it. If you know who’s blocking you, it’s easier to beat them.”

Hall of Famer Jason Taylor said former Dolphins coach Nick Saban, “intellectualized,” the game for him. Made him use his mind, as much as his body. Baker isn’t Taylor. But the idea of expanding the mind in this defense applies.

Players rise and fall when a new regime enters with a different system. Baker has risen. He’s the sudden centerpiece to this defense and a short-cut to understanding it. Watch him. You’ll see.

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