The Miami Dolphins are on vacation. Well, maybe not a true vacation, as there really isn’t any downtime in the NFL offseason these days. But for the next five weeks, players will not be around the training facility at Nova Southeastern University. They’ll have that time to themselves, but getting ready for the start of training camp remains a major focus.
And there was a familiar theme when players were asked last week during minicamp about their “vacation” plans. Many have some minor travel plans, mostly involving going back home to visit family and friends. But working out and staying in shape is on the minds of everyone.
“I’m going to go out, I’m going to train day in and day out, just take a week at home for the Fourth of July with my family and then I’ll be back up here just training,” said rookie fifth-round pick Bobby McCain. “Just getting adjusted to the heat, making sure you stay in shape, that’s the biggest thing coming into training camp. Don’t go home and get out of shape and come back on the bubble. Just making sure you train hard, do the things you’re supposed to do.”
McCain said he plans to do, “Just a lot of running, a LOT of running, because that’s what DBs have to be able to do, run all day. But making sure that you still stay in the playbook, you still do techniques, you still work on your techniques.. ..at home or when you go back to your colleges and with your friends, making sure you stay on top of things.”
McCain and the other members of the 2015 Dolphins draft class actually will have a later start to their vacation because they’re currently in Ohio taking part in the annual NFL Rookie Symposium. Veteran players won’t be resting much either.
“It’s so close to the season, I’m just going to be working out the whole time just to get ready for this upcoming season,” center Mike Pouncey said. “Probably take one trip to Jamaica with the family, other than that, it’ll be just training for me.”
Defensive end Olivier Vernon will travel to London in a few weeks to promote the Dolphins’ regular season game against the New York Jets at Wembley Stadium. Fellow defensive end Cameron Wake handled that assignment last year in advance of the regular season game against the Oakland Raiders.
Family time is important to many players during this down time. It’ll be particularly significant for linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, who became a father to a baby girl last Tuesday. And linebacker Chris McCain will continue to prepare for the arrival of his own daughter, whose due date is on Halloween.
Four other players, safety Michael Thomas, tackle Jason Fox, punter Brandon Fields and long-snapper John Denney will be spending two weeks (10 hours a day) at the University of Miami in the school’s MBA program for Professional Artists and Athletes, studying a different kind of playbook – how to make the transition from football to the real world once their playing careers are over.
“It’s a great deal,” Thomas said. “We’re learning the basic skills. That’s why we all want to do it, just trying to make that transition. Obviously not thinking about it, but don’t want it to be that initial shock you hear guys talk about so much when they’re done playing. So I just want to learn some basic skills of business.”
Head Coach Joe Philbin spoke to the players before they dispersed.
“There’s a lot of time for them,” Philbin said. “I mentioned it to them briefly, there’s a lot of time for us to improve and develop by the time July 28 rolls around. So when you’re a professional football player, it’s 24/7/365. And it’s not that you can’t have time for family or a little vacation, but everything they do impacts each and every one of us. Just like everything I do does. So we just remind them of those key things, if there’s a lot of time, there’s time for development. Take a look at themselves, study themselves on tape and try to learn and improve.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
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