Training camp looks different in 2020 for the Miami Dolphins.
On a Zoom press conference Monday morning, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores announced the themes for his group in 2020.
“A lot of the things you talk about from the football standpoint,” said Flores, “I think they apply in a couple areas or in a lot of areas. On the field, off the field, I would say safety is first. That’s kind of the first (thing) that comes to mind for me.”
The team’s training facility in Davie is testing players and coaches every day. They are required to wear masks, get temperature checks and wear contact tracing devices before even entering the building.
The team added another locker room to spread players out, while using Plexiglas to divide individuals when necessary. The precautions are there, but COVID-19 is still on everyone’s mind. On Sunday, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for the virus.
“I heard about that with Doug and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. I hope he gets back and he’s feeling better and is back at work as quickly as possible,” said Flores.
Flores says they are prepared for such a situation on their staff. In the spring, every coach and staff member was assigned a back-up or two, in the circumstance someone were to be out of the building for an extended period of time.
The same can be said for the roster.
“I think it’s built into the versatility and the scheme is built into what we do offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. A player may be this position in this group and this position in another group. I don’t think that changes. I think that remains the same for our team and I imagine that is the way it is for a lot of teams," Flores said.
He added all active players are present as they begin a their acclimation period.
“I think guys are in okay shape. We’ve got a long way to go, but they’re working. They’re working pretty diligently and I’ve seen already some improvement in the first week and I’m sure they’ll continue to improve," he said. "The off-season is obviously very important and I think the players, they understand that, too, which is why they asked for this (and) the league and the (player's association) agreed to the acclimation period.”
The good news on Monday, wide receiver Preston Williams has been cleared for football activity after tearing his ACL in November.
“It’s walk-through right now, so there’s strength and conditioning in the morning. So he’s running, he’s lifting and we’ll see him in a walk-through setting; but again, for Preston, it’s a new offense so we’re learning the terminology, the depths on some routes and things of that nature," Flores said. "They are a little bit different than they were a year ago. That’s kind of where his focus is right now. He’s worked extremely hard, as all of our guys have, from a rehab standpoint. We’ve just got to take this one day at a time.”
Who will be throwing the football to the Dolphins healthy wide receivers? The Dolphins' sixth overall pick, Tua Tagovailoa, is acclimating well, according to veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who relayed to the media on Saturday he’s aware of his role as a “placeholder” until the young quarterback is ready to take the field.
“There’s something about him that is just very likable and I can already tell that he’s going to be one of those guys that gets along with everybody, that guys are going to want to follow,” said Fitzpatrick.
But Flores was hesitant to single out any particular rookie on Monday, even Tua.
“Tua and the entire rookie group are doing well. I feel like speaking about one and not speaking about the entire group is – they are all really working hard. I think we’ve got a pretty solid group," he said. "They work hard, they’ve worked hard this first week, they are into it, they are picking up the schemes offensively, defensively, and the kicking game."
"But again, it’s walk-through. Anything past their height, weight and speed, we’re not really seeing them move or change directions or really sprint," Flores added. "We’re really not seeing that from anyone in the group, including Tua.”