Wheeler, Teammates Ready For Today's Workouts

Posted Apr 15, 2013

Dolphins officially begin offseason conditioning in Davie.


This will be the second time in as many springs that Miami Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler has to learn a new playbook and introduce himself to teammates, coaches and staff. That process begins in earnest today in Davie on the first day of the team’s offseason workouts.

During these next two weeks, allowable activities as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement are limited to voluntary strength and conditioning and rehabilitation.

Wheeler was one of two free agent linebackers signed on the same day, along with former Baltimore Raven Dannell Ellerbe. Wheeler spent his first four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the Oakland Raiders last season and putting up his best numbers with 109 tackles (78 solo) and three sacks.

“It’s tough but I’m getting used to it because I had to do it last year,” said the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Wheeler, who played collegiately at Georgia Tech. “I had to go all the way to Oakland from Indianapolis and it was the same thing – a new team, new coaches and new everything. So I’m having to do it again. I think I did pretty well and hopefully I can try to do the same thing if not do better.”

In addition to getting to know defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, linebackers coach George Edwards and the nuances of Coyle’s 4-3 defensive scheme, Wheeler also needs to get a grasp on the philosophies and demands of Head Coach Joe Philbin. He will be leaning on some of the returning players like fellow linebacker Koa Misi and the men lining up in front of him – Cameron Wake, Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and Olivier Vernon among them.

Of course, with this being the third different city in as many years for Wheeler to call home, he also is still learning his way around. Once he gets settled that drive into Davie will become routine.

“I don’t have a home,” Wheeler said. “I sold my house in Atlanta because that’s where I was from and I came all the way from Oakland. I brought my stuff here thinking that by the time I got here I’d have a place, but I’m homeless and looking for a spot. I haven’t even met a lot of the team. I’ve only met a few players and they seem pretty cool and I just hope they accept me. I just want to be accepted by the team.”

Wheeler is not alone in that regard, as Ellerbe, cornerback Brent Grimes and defensive lineman Vaughn Martin also are newcomers on the defensive side ball. Wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, tight end Dustin Keller and guard Lance Louis are new additions to the offense.

The second of three phases of the NFL’s voluntary nine-week offseason workout program takes place over the following three weeks and branches out into on-field individual player instruction and drills. Team practices also can be held separately but there is no live contact or team offense versus team defense drills permitted.

Finally, over the last four weeks the third phase is held prior to the mandatory veteran mini-camp, which for the Dolphins is June 11-13, and that’s when the actual practice schedule is formed. The league allows for up to 10 days of organized team practice activities, or OTAs, when 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills can take place but there is still no live contact permitted. Miami’s OTAs are scheduled for May 21-23, 29-31 and June 3-6.