The new culture the Miami Dolphins have worked hard to establish this offseason gets its first test Monday morning.
The Dolphins begin their offseason workout program at their Davie training facility Monday. And while the program is voluntary for all players, the attention this gathering will receive (and should receive) will suggest a greater importance than just sheer weightlifting and conditioning.
Because the Dolphins have spent a lot of time this offseason adding players that are supposed to be leaders or "alpha dogs," to use coach Adam Gase's words.
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And alpha dogs don't stay on the porch licking themselves, or whatever dogs do, when their master has an assignment. Alpha dogs get to work.
They not only want to please but are excited about the prospect, with all that tail wagging and such.
Alpha dogs report to voluntary conditioning.
And they make sure the rest of the pack shows up, too.
So, it stands to reason, that all of Miami's newly acquired leaders will be at the start of this program and throughout as it inexorably moves forward to on-field work, OTAs and then mini-camps.
Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase talks about the Fins' bizarre season and Jarvis Landry's ejection after their final game of the season, a loss to the Buffalo Bills. Charles Trainor Jr.
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That means ....
Danny Amendola, who is supposed to show the receiver room what it takes to win Super Bowl rings, must show up.
Frank Gore, the new (older) voice in the running back room tasked with being Kenyan Drake's mentor, must show up.
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Left guard Josh Sitton, who has volunteered to mentor left tackle Laremy Tunsil as Branden Albert did before him, must show up.
Defensive end Robert Quinn, who is the team's highest-paid offseason addition, making him the man on which the highest expectations ride, must show up.
Center Daniel Kilgore, receiver Albert Wilson, quarterback Brock Osweiler, linebacker Terence Garvin — all new to the Miami locker room at least in part because they fit the team's vision of what the new culture should be about — have to show up.
Everyone shows up, the culture remake is successfully off and running.
But what if they don't? After all, this entire program is voluntary.
Then I would tell you the narrative about establishing a new team culture and upgrading from the old one will start to feel a little hollow. Certainly, the attempt would have gotten off to a poor start.
Look, in 2015 when the Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh to an enormous $114 million contract, the team talked about not just adding a great player but also a leader. Owner Stephen Ross said he felt Suh was "like a son" and worthy of all the trust the team was putting on him with that contract.
And then Suh skipped the start of the workout and conditioning program.
Did that prevent Suh from being in shape? No, he was typically one of the best conditioned athletes on the team. His work in Oregon at the state of the art Nike facility helped him take more defensive tackle snaps than any other player on the team the past three seasons.
But the optics of Suh not being around were bad. They suggested he was going to concentrate on getting himself ready to play and not necessarily be part of any bonding or team building. And while Suh adapted his approach later on, it certainly didn't help the 2015 Dolphins.
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(Amid coach firings, and losing, Suh would try to have player meetings and the reaction from some teammates were eye-rolls because they didn't consider him their leader).
The Dolphins say they're turning the corner on individualism and me-first now. They say their new additions represent a significant wave toward adding proven leadership to the locker room.
"I think the common thread is we're just trying to get guys with experience winning, who have been successful, have done it right, are professionals and are just good examples," coach Adam Gase said at the NFL annual meeting. "But at the same time, we want guys that can play. We're trying to get guys that fit into what we're looking to do.
"Right now, we feel great about the guys that we've acquired."
That shouldn't change on Monday -- as long as everybody shows up.
Source : http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/armando-salguero/article208684269.html