Written by Matthew Cannata
Yesterday, the Miami Dolphins held their first practice in pads and you could tell the players had a little more pep in their step since they could actually start hitting the other side.
“Everybody is anxious to come out here and hit,” linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. “The way it was set up, we built up to this practice, so this practice was a lot faster, turnover was a lot quicker and the plays were run a little bit faster just to get used to hitting and doing what we’re going to be doing in the game.”
“You kind of get tired of just working the hands and trying to work the edge,” defensive tackle Earl Mitchell said. “Sometimes you just want to get in somebody’s grill. It definitely helps because that’s the way football is played. I was definitely excited about today.
The coaching staff didn't just have the players throw on the pads and practice though. They made it a point to emphasize the fundamentals of the game and made sure everyone was on the same page before running through what they had planned.
“We talked to the team in general about playing with leverage,” Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “This is the first time they’ve had pads on in a long time, so we talked to them about getting their eyes on their aiming point and playing with low pad level. That was really the No. 1 thing that we stressed. The second thing was playing with their elbows and their hands inside the framework. What happens a lot in shells is guys don’t have shoulder pads, so they get used to grabbing and reaching. For the first time today, that was a point of emphasis.”
Philbin said that they plan to mix it up with pads, shells and helmets only in order to keep the players fresh. The team will report back on Tuesday and will have another padded practice.
“We want to do a good job dispersing the amount of full pads and mixing the shells in there,” Philbin said. “This is an earlier time for a day off. Last year we didn’t give them a day off until after the fourth practice, but looking at the injury history that we had the last couple of years when we went four in a row and then a day off, we felt like this would hopefully give us a better chance to keep the players healthy. We’ll take a look at them and analyze that. But that’s why we’re having the day off a day earlier.”