The Miami Dolphins wrapped up their 2021 minicamp Thursday, not with a practice on the field but rather with a field trip.
Along with meetings, Dolphins players were given a tour of the place they'll soon call home: the Baptist Health Training Facility adjacent to Hard Rock Stadium.
And based on videos and photos posted on the Dolphins' Twitter account, it absolutely lives up to head coach Brian Flores' description of a "state-of-the-art facility."
And, of course, there's the slide, which owner Stephen Ross gladly used in front of his players.
Flores obviously felt the Dolphins had accomplished enough on the field to eliminate the scheduled third practice of the mandatory minicamp.
"Obviously last year we didn’t have OTAs or really any offseason program," he said Thursday morning. "I think we’ve gotten a lot out of these OTAs and minicamp, just from a getting to know each other/camaraderie/team chemistry standpoint. I think on the field working the techniques, working the fundamentals — any time you can get on the field, work with our coaching staff or the players can work with our coaching staff and go through those techniques, fundamentals, get them corrected, go out there, do them again and get better at them; I think repetition is always a good thing. So we were able to get that accomplished. I’m happy with what we did this offseason and hopefully it helps us moving forward into training camp and preseason games and into the season.”
Still No X
Cornerback Xavien Howard ended up skipping the entire minicamp in a move Flores suggested Tuesday was prompted by his contract situation.
Because the minicamp was mandatory — the only part of the offseason program that was — the Dolphins technically could fine Howard up to $93,085, per the 2020 CBA.
Howard is wide believed to be looking to redo the five-year contract extension he signed in May of 2019 that saw him become the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL at the time, only to be surpassed the next offseason by new teammate Byron Jones.
Jones spoke to the media via Zoom on Thursday morning and naturally he was asked about the absence of Howard.
“I would love to have him, of course, but it’s none of my business," Jones said. "But we had fun last year. We balled out. Obviously what he did was completely special and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and those skills are — we love those skills in our defense. So yes, we’d love to have him back, of course.”
Howard wasn't the only high-profile player in the NFL to skip mandatory minicamp because New England cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Cardinals edge defender Chandler Jones all did the same thing.
Getting Their Shots
The Dolphins are one of two teams in the NFL who have reached at least 85 percent vaccination among their players, as first reported by SI NFL national reporter Albert Breer and confirmed by a source.
The other team is the New Orleans Saints, with the Denver Broncos reportedly inching close to that threshold as well.
Breer explained why that 85 percent threshold could have significance heading into the 2021 season.
Per a memo released today, things will be a lot more restrictive in training camp and the preseason for players who choose to remain unvaccinated.M
As all NFL fans probably know by now, it will be Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes on the cover of the Madden 22 video game.
Along with that news, we have our first promotional trailer for the game and it features a nice cameo by none other than Tua Tagovailoa.
The 2:06 trailer features a solid three-second look at Tua as he looks to be stepping onto Bills Stadium for a game against Buffalo. There's also later a shot of running back Myles Gaskin being tackled by a Raiders player at Allegiant Stadium, where the Dolphins played last season and will play again in 2021.
While this week marks the end of the offseason program for Dolphins veterans, it's not exactly the case for the rookie.
The CBA allows for each team to hold a rookie development camp (no weekend work except for the post-draft rookie minicamp) for seven weeks starting with May 17. Doing the math, it means that teams are allowed to keep working with their rookies until July 1.
Players are scheduled to report for training camp July 27 along with all but three teams around the league, though it's unclear exactly when practices will start.
Flores said he wants his players refreshed but ready to go when they reconvene in late July.
“My message (to the players) is to go on vacation, to take this time to recharge, get some rest, spend time with their families — friends, families, loved ones," Flores said. "I think you need that balance in your life, so that was my message to these guys this morning, but at the same time, keep themselves in some type of condition, train. Obviously this is what they love to do and if they want to be at the top of their game come training camp, they’re going to have to train. But I think it’s a good time for them to get away and recharge and come back refreshed with a lot of energy and ready to go.”