Second Training Camp Under Philbin Starts Seamlessly

Posted Jul 21, 2013

New and returning players fell right in step for first practice.

For as much change as the Miami Dolphins have been through this year, there was a familiar feeling to the first practice of training camp.

Head Coach Joe Philbin took notice of the new logo prominently on display around the Doctors Hospital Training Facility and of the many new names on the roster, but unlike last year when he was a first-time head coach he had a better comfort level.

“You never assume anything,” Philbin said. “We took time as a coaching staff to go over how we’re going to teach blocking, how we’re going to teach tackling, how we’re going to pursue here and just the basic fundamentals we spend a lot of time on as a staff. Obviously, it was a little bit more comfortable but it’s football practice and anything can happen. We had excellence attendance in the offseason and we have a good feel for these guys, but the big thing is when we get the pads on we’ll know a little bit more.”

It’ll be a few more days before that first full pads practice, which is a few days too many for some players like Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake. He’s eager to engage in full contact as opposed to what he describes now as “hand fighting.” One big difference from last year’s camp is the starting date as Miami opened a week earlier because it is playing an extra preseason game, the Hall of Fame game against the Dallas Cowboys in two weeks.

Conventional wisdom points to the players not necessarily enjoying the early start because that means their offseason has been cut short. But at the same time there is a buzz around this team as a result of the potential that was on display last year, especially on defense, and the projected improvements on offense with the additions of free agent wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller. So there seems to be an eagerness to get on the field and make things work.

“Right now it feels like training camp and I have no idea that 30 of the other teams aren’t in camp yet,” Wake said. “To me this is training camp and I know two weeks ago I was itching to get back on the field. I was tired of just running around on the field by myself. I wanted to get out there running defenses and get the schemes and have that competition one-on-one, so I was excited to get back out here and I know a lot of the other guys probably feel the same way.”

Wallace experienced his first training camp practice as a Dolphin after spending the previous four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and as much as he is looking forward to grasping the offense, he got a dose of reality when it came to the weather conditions in South Florida in July.

“This humidity is something serious,” Wallace said. “I’ve never been around anything like this. I know that guys around here are mentally tough and they’re up for the challenge. No matter what you do in the offseason, once you get back for training camp you’ve got to catch up and this was the first day.”

So while Wallace, Gibson, Keller, cornerback Brent Grimes, right tackle Tyson Clabo and the rookies continue to adjust and get into a rhythm, Philbin and his staff will take what they saw on Day 1 and start working on improvements.

“It’s a good group of men and there was a lot of enthusiasm when we got back into the office as a coaching staff and the first opportunity to get on the field with these guys,” he said. “We have a long way to go, as we know, but there are some good pieces to work with. These guys have worked awful hard and came back in excellent shape. So it’s the start of the process as I told the team on the field. This is the beginning and now we start the cycle again as we move forward.”
Game Pass: Miami Dolphins