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Dolphins Break Out The Pads For First Time

Posted Jul 27, 2014

Team practices for just about 2.5 hours with an emphasis on third-down situations and reinforcing fundamentals.

The Miami Dolphins conducted their first practice of the summer Friday and worked again Saturday, but things moved to another level Sunday when the players wore pads for the first time.

You could almost call it the unofficial start of training camp.

“Everybody is anxious to come out here and hit,” linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. “The way it was set up, we built up to this practice, so this practice was a lot faster, turnover was a lot quicker and the plays were run a little bit faster just to get used to hitting and doing what we’re going to be doing in the game.”

The Dolphins practiced for just about 21⁄2 hours Sunday, with the emphasis being on third-down situations.

With the pads on for the first time, there also was a focus on reinforcing fundamentals.

“We talked to the team in general about playing with leverage,” Head Coach Joe Philbin. “This is the first time they’ve had pads on in a long time, so we talked to them about getting their eyes on their aiming point and playing with low pad level. That was really the No. 1 thing that we stressed. The second thing was playing with their elbows and their hands inside the framework. What happens a lot in shells is guys don’t have shoulder pads, so they get used to grabbing and reaching. For the first time today, that was a point of emphasis.”

For the players, it was another step in the preparation for the regular season opener, a move closer to game action.

“You kind of get tired of just working the hands and trying to work the edge,” defensive tackle Earl Mitchell said. “Sometimes you just want to get in somebody’s grill. It definitely helps because that’s the way football is played. I was definitely excited about today.

“We definitely get to work on tackling. We get to work on more aspects of playing football, which is nice because we definitely need it. Playing physical is the greatest nature of this game. We’ve got to establish a physical mind-set and you’ve got to come out firing.”

The players most affected by the switch to full pads clearly are linemen, but that doesn’t mean they were the only ones who were looking forward to this day.

“I always felt that I was a little better with pads on because I play with reckless abandon,” safety Louis Delmas said. “So today was a little more fun for me, today there was a little more enthusiasm out of me. Altogether, the team as a unit, we all had fun.”

The Dolphins will be back in pads at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University when they return to practice Tuesday following an off day.

Philbin indicated the plan is to split fairly evenly practices in full pads and in shells, with three “uppers” practices mixed in and one where it will be helmets only.

“We want to do a good job dispersing the amount of full pads and mixing the shells in there,” Philbin said. “This is an earlier time for a day off. Last year we didn’t give them a day off until after the fourth practice, but looking at the injury history that we had the last couple of years when we went four in a row and then a day off, we felt like this would hopefully give us a better chance to keep the players healthy. We’ll take a look at them and analyze that. But that’s why we’re having the day off a day earlier.”

So the Dolphins have wrapped up their first weekend of training camp, and did so with some productive work.

“It’s always a day I look forward to, being a linebacker, going to strike someone and just getting used to this heat with these pads on,” Ellerbe said. “It’s a different animal. It’s a different animal.”