Philbin's First Training Camp Opens In Style

Posted Jul 27, 2012

This is a year of firsts for the Miami Dolphins, starting with Head Coach Joe Philbin conducting his first training camp in this role.

Even though he’s been on the job for seven months and was on the field for rookie minicamp, OTAs and the mandatory minicamp, Philbin could sense something a little different this morning. At the top of that list had to be the number of fans on hand for the open practice, but that didn’t change his approach too much.

“I’m nervous before every single practice and when I’m not nervous before every single practice I think I’ll know it’s time for me to put my whistle away,” said Philbin, who has been in the coaching profession for more than three decades but never as a head coach. “I’m not nervous like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to make a mistake,’ but nervous that you want this thing to go right. You want the practice to be perfect, you want the organization of it to be perfect, you want to see players making plays and doing things the right way. We all know this is a competitive business and when you lose that zip you probably need to start looking for another occupation.”

Switching jobs is the furthest thing from Philbin’s mind, and his players are buying into his philosophy, his style and what his expectations are for them as individuals and as a team. He has incorporated a fast pace to his practices and a strict focus on making sure everyone is involved.

Fourth-year defensive end Cameron Wake, who lined up at outside linebacker last year whenever Miami was in a 3-4 alignment, was very eager to get going in the training camp mode. He is excited to work on the techniques he will be employing with his hand in the ground, but what excited him most about today’s practice was that fast pace.

“It is quicker but I think it’s efficient,” said Wake, who made the Pro Bowl in 2010 after recording 14 sacks. “We’re not going to be out here forever but when we’re out here it’s work. You’re not going to have guys standing around doing nothing just hanging out playing in the grass. Everybody out here’s moving. It’s fast paced but you get a good burn going, you get a good workout and it simulates a game, so that’s more preparation for the season.”

Cornerback Vontae Davis also is in his fourth season with the team and dealt with injuries last year for the first time before ending the season strong. He is typically high-energy guy on the practice field and in games anyway, so he sees the fast pace as suiting him perfectly.

Since Philbin broke in the team somewhat during OTAs and minicamps, Davis and the others knew what to expect today. Of course they were practicing in shells and not full pads, which will be the case later on this weekend, but that was still more than the offseason.

“It’s getting us ready because our goal is to be the most conditioned team coming in,” Davis said. “So in order to do that we have to be practice that way and move fast. Coach Philbin wants us to come out here to work. It’s about business and the biggest thing is improvement as a team by just pushing each other, competing, trying to resemble the game as much as possible. Every team is going to have their ups and downs, you just fight through adversity and your bad plays and you pick your teammates up.”

Nose tackle Paul Soliai is playing for his fourth different head coach since being drafted in the fourth round back in 2007 and like Wake and Davis, he has been impressed with the way Philbin runs practice.

“He’s a good coach. Everybody gets a rep and no one’s left out,” Soliai said. “Everybody’s going to get looked at on tape and he’s a good coach. We’ve just got to get used to his practice schedule and then keep moving and get in shape. The fast pace helps us on offense and defense get in shape and then we’ll be ready.”

When practice ended and the offensive players headed straight inside to do their lifting, Philbin joined some of the defensive players at the fence separating the bleachers from the field. He took his time signing autographs and chatting with fans, soaking it all in before beginning preparation for Day 2 tomorrow.

Those same fans that added a bit of excitement to the head coach’s day kept him on his toes during their conversations and reminded him why he took the job in the first place.

“The best part was when the fans said that I’m a savior and I kept them after and introduced them to my wife and told her, ‘I’ve been telling you all along I’ve been that,’ but it was great,” Philbin joked. “It’s always good to have fans around and I think the players enjoy that and it creates a good atmosphere for practice. I thought the atmosphere was great and it was good to get out there.”
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