Miami Dolphins smash, hammer, drill and tackle each other in last July practice

from Palm Beach Post

DAVIE — There’s something sweet about the sound of football pads colliding at full speed and men crashing to the ground — hard-core, old-school tackling, and on July 31.

“Football season is back,” Miami Dolphins defensive end Andre Branch said Monday. “That’s what it sounds like. There’s no more OTA’s. No more mini camp. Football season is here.”

There’s something sweet about the Dolphins not only wearing full pads, as has not been the case, but trying to re-establish their physical running style, while also attempting to show they’re better prepared to stop the run.

“It was fun to go out there and finally get to tackle somebody, hit somebody, run around,” rookie middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan said. “You’re still trying to prove yourself to the coaches.”

There’s something sweet about all that built-up tension from the spring and early summer — let’s play touch football, let’s do some thud, perhaps, but never, never take that man down to the ground — being unleashed on a practice field, where fans let out oohs and aahs usually reserved for fall Sundays.

“It gets a little bit more testy out there,” defensive end William Hayes said.

“For the most part, we found the violence,” defensive end Cam Wake said.

“It was good to get the competitive juices going,” running back Kenyan Drake said. “Sometimes you’ve got to get down and dirty. It’s football. It’s a contact sport.”

There is one downside to all of this, of course


NFL coaches don’t typically allow players to tackle each other, at all, in practice, for fear of injury.

And yes, starting running back Jay Ajayi ended up in a concussion evaluation.

Ajayi took a shot so hard from imported linebacker Lawrence Timmons that Timmons’ helmet flew off.

Ajayi took a violent shot from new safety T.J. McDonald, who is built like a Predator.

And Ajayi was smashed to the ground by surly masher Ndamukong Suh.

“Jay was taking shots left and right,” Drake said. “That’s just the game. I’m sure he’ll be back sooner than later.”

Coach Adam Gase and first-year defensive coordinator Matt Burke had gone back and forth about how much, if at all, Dolphins should hit each other — and in this case, we’re talking LIVE tackling — and decided it was worth it.

Players tire of the same monotonous, tedious drills.

And this was the one-third mark of training camp. The first preseason game is 10 days away.

“You’re not going to win either way,” Gase said. “If we don’t go live, you guys write that we don’t work on tackling. If we do go live and somebody gets hurt, then you say we shouldn’t. It doesn’t matter. You’re going to be wrong either way. We feel like that’s best for our football team. We needed to go live and tackle and it’s football.”

Gase said the players were enthusiastic about the proposition. And make no mistake, the adrenaline was flowing. There were skirmishes. There was extraordinary intensity. There was passion.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while, probably since last spring,” Gase said. “I think a lot of it had to do with just we made a lot of missed tackles last year. It probably took us a while to really get going in the run game and pass protection, kind of that sense of urgency to have. (I was) just talking to the coaches and seeing how we could set it up to where we could get great work in there. When you talk to some of your veteran players and you can’t even finish the sentence and they’re saying ‘Absolutely,’ that’s when you know it’s a good thing.”

For McMillan, taking live reps (particularly when he’s calling the plays, which he does when he’s in the game) was invaluable.

For Timmons, a chance to show he can still bring a hammer at the age of 31.

For McDonald, a chance to show what the Dolphins may have after Week 8, when his suspension ends.

Gase did not have his players tackling each other to the ground in any summer practice at Nova Southeastern last season. He felt a change was needed. And his players embraced it.

“For me and the guys that I play next to in the trenches, it’s hand-on-hand, collisions and combat every play, so to do it in shorts and T-shirts, it’s kind of different,” Wake said. “I like getting a little dirty with the fellas down in the dirt. So today was a first step to kind of put a finger on where we are.”

Added Branch: “When we’re just in jerseys, you can’t simulate a game. When you put the pads on, it’s game time.”

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16 Responses to Miami Dolphins smash, hammer, drill and tackle each other in last July practice

  1. David says:

    Smash, Hammer, Drill, and Tackle.
    All fine and dandy, but let’s not get Ajayi hurt or concussed in the process.

    Mcmilllons a beast IMO, I think the light comes on rookie season like it did for Zach.

    • ElephantRider says:

      Can’t have it both ways. I’m happy to see that they knew how bad the tackling was and are trying to remedy it.

      Injuries happen….. it sucks but I believe the whole team will be better for it.

    • Marinofan13 says:

      GREAT to hear this!!!
      GO MR. WAKE!!!
      HELL YEAH!!!

      • David says:

        Good to see Ya MF!, hope everything is going great for You my brother in PA

        • Marinofan13 says:

          Good to see ya too, David! Won’t be too much longer ’til this season is ON AND POPPIN’!!!

          • David says:

            Bro I can’t wait, this is Gase year 2, and We are deeper and more talented.
            We HAVE to stay healthy this year, and great things will happen!

    • David says:

      No doubt about it. Wake says He is working very hard to get better.
      What a champion player, would be nice to get a ring for Cam Wake!

  2. David says:

    10 days to first preseason game, about the same time as the Mooch career ?

  3. David says:

    August 10
    7 pm
    Dress rehearsal PS game 1

  4. Marinofan13 says:

    Still awaiting word on Ajayi’s possible concussion. I suppose we’ll get an update tomorrow…

  5. ElephantRider says:

    This month will go quick. Season will soon be upon us.


    • Marinofan13 says:

      NO DOUBT, ER!

      You KNOW I’m getting excited when I’m typing in caps with extra explanation points!!!

      GO PHINS!!!
      HELL YEAH!!!

  6. ElephantRider says:

    So Ajayi is concussed and Ford most likely headed to IR.

    I miss anything else?

    And LOL at your “explanation” points M


  7. David says:

    New Post up!

Comments are closed.