Monday marks the start of the third and final phase of the 2021 offseason program for the Miami Dolphins, and this one includes actual practices.
The caveat, of course, is that contact is prohibited in the 10 OTA (Organized Team Activity) sessions the Dolphins are permitted, and the same goes for the three-day minicamp scheduled for June 15-17.
Despite the NFLPA encouraging players to stay away from the voluntary portions of the offseason program — everything but the three-day minicamp — the Dolphins have by all accounts have very good attendance so far and it's expected to continue over the next four weeks.
And this is despite Dolphins players releasing a statement through the NFLPA a few weeks expressing their solidarity with those choosing to stay away.
Since then, it's been reported that players negotiated with head coach Brian Flores to gain some concessions in exchange for attending the offseason program.
"Dolphins coach Brian Flores agreed to a modified schedule in which the team won't have virtual meetings on the two days per week that they hold walkthrough practices. To ensure that the practices will actually be walkthroughs, the Dolphins players negotiated for flip-flops to be mandatory.
"We understand how tempo can increase as the practice goes on, so we tried to nip that in the bud early and just mandatory flip-flops," cornerback Byron Jones said on the NFLPA call. "Brian Flores did a great job of stepping up and giving us a template that works for everybody."
These are the exact rules for Phase III:
Beginning in Phase Three, clubs may conduct in-person meetings and classroom instruction subject to COVID-19 testing cadence, tracking, facility access and other protocols. During Phase Three, teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or "OTAs". No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.
Phase III includes workdays of up to 6 hours per day, up from 4 hours for Phase II. It's 10 hours for the minicamp.
While the exact value and significant of the offseason program can be debated, what's indisputable is that it's bound to help a team breaking in a new offensive coordinator — in the Dolphins' case co-coordinators (George Godsey and Eric Studesville — particularly with a second-year quarterback like Tua Tagovailoa.
Godsey and Studesville are scheduled to address the media Monday for the first time since they were promoted to replace longtime NFL coach Chan Gailey, who resigned in early January after one year on the job.