In the midst of a pandemic filled offseason, coach Brian Flores’s team faces a challenge bigger than winning football games: preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“There’s nothing more important than the health of the team. And that’s going to be the forefront this year especially,” Flores told reporters Wednesday.
The league has already begun to feel the impact of the virus, as over 25 players have opted out of the 2020 season. Luckily for the Miami Dolphins, that hasn’t affected them as of now.
As the newly built Dolphins transition into training camp, they’ll have to make up for lost time in the spring and summer while preparing for the regular season without a preseason.
“I think every rep’s going to be important,” Flores stated. “Every walk-through every rep, every practice rep. We won’t have any preseason games. That’s all we’ve got. I don’t think there’s any point in dwelling on it or being upset about the circumstances. We just have to make the most of the opportunities that we’re going to be given.
“Every rep in individual, those are evaluations. And the improvement those guys make in practice, in walk-throughs, are going to be what either keeps them on the tam or doesn’t keep them on the team.
And while the health and safety procedures may be different, Miami’s 2020 training camp will have the competition aspect as past years. That goes for the quarterback position, headlined by the question everyone is asking: “Who’s going to start?”
With no preseason games, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick emerges as the favorite to start in Week 1 over rookie Tua Tagovailoa. But Flores made it clear that Fitzpatrick, along with the rest of the team, will have to earn their role in camp.
“You always want competition in training camp,” Flores added. “Every position is an open competition. Obviously some players are further ahead than others. We all kind of know and understand that, but, yes, we want competition. There’s no jobs that are just going to be handed out.”
As for Tagovailoa, who didn’t start camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), he passed his physical and will be ready to practice, Flores confirmed.
Nonetheless, Flores is asking for the 5th overall pick to do the same as every other player: “Come in every day, having gone over the install the night before, mentally prepare to go out there and practice, physically prepare to go out there and try to improve every day.”
The second-year Dolphins coach acknowledges that without the right health precautions, there will be a large setback to the season, much like the next-door neighbor Miami Marlins. Therefore, Flores has been advocating his team to do the most in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“For a player individually, they’re going to have to have a responsibility to themselves, to this team — to make some sacrifices in the building and outside of the building. If we don’t make the right decisions — if we’re in bars and in crowded restaurants and in concerts, the likelihood of us bringing the virus into the building is very high.”
The Dolphins, who come off of a 5-11 season, added 11 rookies and 11-free agent signings as well as a new offensive coordinator this offseason. Time will tell how the restructured squad will perform following the odd summer.