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AC in the AM: What's It Like In The Locker Room? Let's Find Out

Posted Nov 29, 2017

It’s time for my annual tour of the Dolphins locker room at their Davie training facility. We’ve only got 45 minutes so please keep moving, definitely don’t ask for autographs or selfies and try to give the players some space.

Four times a week NFL rules stipulate that the media is allowed to enter the home away from home for these players. Speakers are blaring with loud music as we walk in, but the music is soon turned off. The players are sitting by their lockers, some focusing on their cell phones or iPads, others bantering with one another, a few grabbing a quick snack.

I enjoy Wednesdays the most. By that time the previous Sunday’s game is long forgotten and everything is pointing toward that week’s opponent. You can ask the players about anything and they are usually very willing to talk.

The locker room has three large screen televisions, a big scale near the middle of the room and only one sign, which breaks down the dress code for practice depending on whether it’s a walkthrough or a full-scale workout. Some of the lockers have blue nameplates over the regular ones, a gift from the game in London earlier this season.

So let’s take a look around and see what’s going on.

Over there, where the wide receivers reside, sits Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry. Their lockers run side by side by side, facing the entire room. On this day, I was fortunate enough to catch them all together so I threw one question out for all of them to hear.

“Longest pass play of your career on any level?” I asked.

Landry chimes in first: “Seventy-one yards last season against Arizona. Bet you probably thought I had one longer.”

Stills is next. Didn’t hesitate with the answer. “Went 99 yards in high school,” he said. “Just a short fade pattern. Used my speed for the rest.”

Then there was Parker: “Caught a wide receiver screen pass in high school, took it 90 yards. Will never forget it.”

Across from the three receivers and a little to the right is running back Kenyan Drake. He played at Alabama where, as you would imagine, the facilities are first class. I wondered to Drake how this locker room compared to that one.

“Both really nice,” Drake said. “We had 100 players at Alabama so it was a tighter squeeze. I liked that locker room. I like this one. Both have everything you need.”

Over by the door sits kick returner Jakeem Grant. Always fun to see what’s on his mind.

Going the distance this week, I ask him.

“That’s the plan,” he says. “Always the plan.”

On the other side of the locker room you’ve got the defensive linemen on the left and the defensive backs on the right.

“Hey, who invited you over here,” one of the defensive linemen growls.

Then he smiles: “Just kidding, what’s on your mind?”

Ryan Tannehill walks by and heads turn because everyone wants to see how he’s getting around after knee surgery in training camp. There is no limp, not even the slightest trace. There is a smile on Tannehill’s face. “Feeling good,” he says to nobody in particular, which is exactly what we wanted to hear.

I always like to spend part of my 45 minutes with the offensive linemen. In many ways they are the philosophers, always willing to put things in perspective. Center Mike Pouncey is among the best at that. Veteran guard Jermon Bushrod isn’t far behind.

“It’s all about believing,” Bushrod said, sitting by his locker. “You believe and you always have a chance.”

I walk by the defensive linemen and Ndamukong Suh is sitting alone by his locker wearing a shirt that clearly shows an incredible amount of muscle mass.

“Want to arm wrestle for charity,” I ask him.

He looks up at my pencil thin arms and smiles. “Sure, why not.” Which is exactly the response I was afraid of.

“Uh, maybe another time,” I say and walk slowly away.

Cam Wake is right in front of me now, sitting at his locker in the corner. Wake officially speaks to the media once a week, but you can always stop by with one or two questions or maybe some friendly exchanges. I’ve had this running commentary with Wake for a couple of years. We keep track of how many different quarterbacks he has sacked. Last I checked the number was 30.

“Got to keep going,” Wake tells me. “How many did you say I’ve sacked?”

The 45 minutes are now up. My notepad is filled with scribble that only I can decipher. I appreciate all of you following the rules on this locker room tour. Who knows, you may actually have earned yourself a return visit.
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