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Players Eager For First Training Camp Practices

Posted Jul 26, 2012

One month into summer means two things – school is around the corner and NFL training camps have begun.

Shortly after the sun rises tomorrow, the Miami Dolphins will hold their first practice of training camp and the first one under Head Coach Joe Philbin. Fans will be getting their first glimpse of how the first-year coach runs a practice and how the 2012 rookie class along with the new free agent acquisitions will look in aqua and orange.

But even the returning players from last season are anxious to see what’s in store and with a new coaching staff in place and lots of changes made to the training facility in Davie, they are approaching this as a fresh start.

“I definitely feel just like a rookie,” said cornerback Sean Smith, who is entering his fourth season with the team. “I came in and I have a new position coach, I have a new coordinator and a new system so everything’s brand new to me. Coming in that’s my approach and I can’t go off of what I did last year because none of these coaches were around. All they’ve seen of me is OTAs and I have to keep building on that. Right now we’re doing some good things down here and I can’t wait to put it on tape again.”

Tight end Les Brown can easily trump Smith’s approach because not only is he an undrafted rookie, he is about to experience his first football training camp since high school. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound former college basketball player is trying to buck the odds and earn a roster spot.

Brown’s impressive performance at Brigham Young University’s Pro Day at the end of March caught the eye of NFL scouts. He turned in a time of 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash and a 39-inch vertical leap, good enough to convince the Dolphins to take a chance on him.

“I’m excited and I think the coaches are waiting for me to see what I can do with pads on because I don’t have any film from college,” Brown said. “I’m excited to put the pads on. These last few weeks have been tough because I’ve missed being around the facility with the guys and the coaches and practicing. It’s been good to get my body a little rest and recover and get ready for this grind, but I’m excited. I can’t wait.”

Running back Reggie Bush is entering his second season in Miami after coming over last offseason via trade from the New Orleans Saints. After a slow start the No. 2 overall pick of the 2006 NFL Draft finished strong and put together the best season of his career, rushing for 1,086 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games with a 5.0 average per carry.

Despite this being the third different offensive system Bush will have to learn in as many years, Bush remains confident that he will be just as productive if not more in 2012. From what he’s seen of the playbook so far and what he and his teammates were able to test out on the field in mini-camp and the OTAs, Bush has good reason to be optimistic.

“I’m excited because Coach Philbin is bringing in an attack, spread-open, West Coast offense that I’m used to obviously,” said Bush, who also caught 43 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown last season. “A lot of the terminology is even the same from when I was in New Orleans and even back to college. So I think for me it’s pretty easy and the fact that I’m probably going to be used in the passing game a lot more is something I’m looking forward to.”

Five weeks have passed since Bush and the rest of the Dolphins last stepped onto the practice field and while some stayed in South Florida and focused on their conditioning and studying the playbook, others used the time to get away. There were trips abroad and trips back to their hometowns to spend time with family, all the while with training camp not too far from their minds.

Now that the time off has ended and the groundwork is about to be laid for the 2012 regular season, there is a combined feeling of anticipation and dread for the long days to come. Smith has bottled that up to perfection, acknowledging that the fast pace of OTAs and mini-camp helped prepare him and his teammates for what’s in store.

“Camp is a love/hate thing,” he said. “You definitely love being back out there with the guys, you look forward to the new things at the facility and I can’t wait to go back out there. We have a lot going on but at the same time it’s camp regardless and you have to be out there on the grind, being here from 6 a.m. to maybe 6 or 7 at night. So that 12-hour shift of just non-stop meetings and practice, that whole training camp lifestyle is really a love/hate thing.”

Both of those emotions will be on full display starting bright and early tomorrow morning.
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