The Miami Dolphins started their 2015 season today with the first practice of training camp. The team spent the day working on their regular down and distance offense and defense, and on shaking off the rust of a long offseason. It is also the first chance for fans to see a lot of the new players who have joined the team this offseason, including free agent signing Ndamukong Suh and first-round draft choice DeVante Parker, along with players returning from injury like Branden Albert. Fans are excited for this season, a season in which Miami appears ready to end the six-year Playoff drought.
That feeling of energy surrounding the Dolphins was felt by owner Stephen Ross today, who commented on it to head coach Joe Philbin. After the practice, Philbin was asked about the energy surrounding the club, to which he replied, "Steve (Ross) and I were talking, he sensed a little different buzz and a little different feel. It’s a team that I feel good about from a chemistry standpoint so far. We’ve got 90 guys now, we’re going down to 53 as you know. I think our connection so far with the ball club, with the staff, with everybody, I feel very good about."
The first practice went well, with the offense able to find some connections between starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his crop of new receivers, including Greg Jennings and Kenny Stills, along with returning players like Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews. Parker, unfortunately, has started training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list after having to have a screw in his foot surgically replaced.
"DeVante Parker is going to be an excellent football player here for a long time and so we’ll take it one day at a time," Philbin explained about Parker's placement on the PUP. "It’s a process and when he’s healthy we’ll get him on the field and he’ll practice. Once we’re confident he’s comfortable in his assignments and execution and he can help us win football games, he’ll go out and play."
The offense did not see much of Albert either on the first day. While the team's starting left tackle avoided the PUP list, he is being brought along slowly in training camp after suffering a torn ACL and MCL mid-season last year. "Number one, it was great to have him out there today in the walkthrough and around his teammates," Philbin said of Albert. "I think it’s good for him to get back to the football playing mentality. He’s worked extremely hard to put himself in position to get back and contribute to this football team. It was great to have him out. Again, that’s a day-to-day process. I have a lot of faith in him. He knows how he feels. He’s played at a high level in this league, so he’ll know when things are right."
Suh joins the Dolphins as the highest paid defensive player in league history, a signing that brings with it a lot of excitement and expectations from fans. Exactly how Suh fits in with the team, and if he takes on a leadership role with the club.
"One thing he did is he encouraged Jordan Phillips to come out and train with him. That’s an example of leadership – of taking a young player, showing him obviously from a physical standpoint and a professionalism standpoint, a preparation standpoint, some of the things that he’s done to get himself ready. Now, to take a young player under his wing so to speak and do those things, so that’s one great example that he’s done already in the short time he’s been here."
The Dolphins return to the practice field tomorrow morning at 8am.