The eight rookies drafted by the Miami Dolphins, led by first-year head coach Adam Gase, and 10 undrafted free agents invited by the staff arrive in south Florida on Thursday later this week for their introduction to the NFL, and unlike other rookie minicamps, Dolphins rookies will not be stepping foot on the field, or putting pads or their helmets on.
Instead of doing what other teams have done for decades, Gase is putting his rookies in classrooms where they will "learn how to be Miami Dolphins," according to the Miami Herald.
Not only will they learn the underlying schemes that will lay the groundwork on whether they earn a roster spot or not, but they'll also be taught about their individual assignments, and the expectations of them as a Dolphin. Also part of Gase's minicamp will be "life labs" to help players with nutrition, financial planning, sports science, dealing with the media, and some overall polishing up as people and how to conduct themselves in their new role as NFL players.
There's a multitude of reasons Gase has decided to adopt this new approach, and one of the reasons he shares with the Miami Herald is to help these young players push through the "rookie wall syndrome" that stops a lot of players from progressing late in the season. Instead of playing 12 games (or a few more), they're being expected to grind through a four game preseason slate to earn a roster spot, and then go through another 16 regular season games on top of travel and other taxing demands.
The rookies have already been through training for the combine, their pro days, private workouts, flying around the country meeting with different front office personnel and jumping through numerous other hoops, so Gase feels that minicamp shouldn't be a continuation of that grind, and he wants to make sure his guys are refreshed and ready when they hit the field, instead of completely burnt out.
Gase notes that the hope behind the approach of getting them in the classroom first will help them hit the field and be as mentally ready as possible, so that they're prepared to keep up with the veterans without coaches having to stop and explain things like many other teams do.
With as much time, money, and energy that draftees and free agents commit to the combine and their pro days, Gase's new approach certainly makes a lot of sense, and if he has success in year one (and rookies stay out of the news for the wrong reasons), expect to see some other franchises pick up on the idea as well. You can bet that college programs will be keeping an eye on this too to see if there is a way to better prepare incoming freshman.