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OXNARD, Calif. — The Dolphins returned to practice for the first time in more than a week, but did so some 3,000 miles away from the Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University.
With some help and cooperation from the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys and the city of Oxnard, the Dolphins worked out at the Cowboys’ training camp facility adjacent to the River Ridge Golf Club.
The Dolphins will practice here for three days before making the 90-minute drive to Los Angeles ahead of the game against the Chargers at the Stub Hub Center on Sunday.
The Dolphins convened in California in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which forced the postponement of their scheduled season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross provided a plane for players, coaches and staff members to fly out with their families Friday night, and those players who already had left the area rejoined their teammates in Southern California.
The team was reunited Tuesday, but the practice Wednesday marked the first on-field work in eight days.
“We’re just happy to get back to football,” wide receiver Kenny Stills said. “We spent all offseason being anxious, preparing for Week 1 and then kind of having that taken away from us because of a natural disaster … we know what’s going on at home and we’re still gathering more information about how we can get some relief efforts together and what we can do to help, but (we’re) just focusing on this week and trying to come out of this week with a victory.”
The Dolphins ended up in Oxnard after they put a plan in place after the opener against Tampa Bay was postponed last Wednesday.
“It was really just trying to figure out what we were going to do for this week, the timing of everything,” Head Coach Adam Gase said. “Once we just decided we’re going to go to L.A., just get out there early and start figuring out travel plans. That’s really when everything started going to work. It was quick. Everybody did their thing extremely fast and we were able to get a bunch of people who flied out here with the families. Everybody was scattered all over the country, so it was just about kind of getting us regrouped here by Tuesday morning. The guys did a great job. (Director of Team Operations) Scottie Bullis, his whole crew did a great job of making sure everybody got here and we had flights for everybody. Guys did a good job, too, of being responsible and checking in and making sure that we knew what was going on with them.”
Getting back together: Approximately half the players, including wide receiver Jarvis Landry, took advantage of the charter flight out Friday. Others scattered around the country, many of them taking advantage of the unscheduled bye to visit family. That included new father Laremy Tunsil, who went to Mississippi to see his new son, and tight end MarQueis Gray, who flew home to Minnesota to surprise his two boys. Mike Pouncey, meanwhile, flew with his family to Pittsburgh to spend time with his twin brother, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey. Gase said Pro Bowl defensive end Cam Wake was the last player to rejoin his teammates Tuesday.
45 people from camp and stadium working together and we have the bubble back up and ready to go… pic.twitter.com/LFvXzPMkYv
— Tom Garfinkel (@TomGarfinkel) September 12, 2017
Meanwhile in South Florida…: Dolphins President/CEO reported via Twitter that Hard Rock Stadium and the practice bubble at Nova Southeastern University sustained no structural damage from Hurricane Irma. The practice bubble was deflated ahead of the arrival of Irma and was reinflated early this week, adding the facility got an “all-clear” for next week. As for Hard Rock Stadium, Garfinkel indicated the only damage involved landscaping and a section of roof panels in one corner. He called the damage “aesthetic in nature and easy to fix.”
Stephen Ross has pledged $1 Million to long-term rebuild and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. https://t.co/4Q8kdFvDw5
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 13, 2017
Ross pledge: The Dolphins announced Wednesday was Owner Stephen Ross was pledging $1 million for immediate and long-term rebuilding efforts for South Florida. In addition, the Dolphins announced a series of efforts designed with the goal of helping the region in what will be a longstanding recovery process from the devastating storm. “The devastation throughout Florida was heartbreaking, but I was inspired by the resilience and spirit of our state to help rebuild,” said Ross. “Our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by Hurricane Irma and we are committed to helping in long term recovery efforts.” The organization will immediately deploy its Miami Dolphins Special Teams powered by AARP Foundation volunteer program to assist with much needed rebuilding projects in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. This volunteer program was created to enlist, mobilize and support community efforts in times of emergency. In addition, the Dolphins have partnered with AARP Foundation on a dollar-for-dollar matching campaign, with 100 percent of the money raised going directly into the community. Created to support the victims of the hurricane, especially those who are low-income and age 50-plus, these donations collected through the disaster relief fund will impact those in need. Lastly, the team will assess long-term damage and collaborate with local and regional community partners involved with critical relief and rebuilding efforts in Monroe and Collier counties along with the Florida Keys. For information on how to volunteer with relief efforts or to request help with a rebuilding project, visit Dolphins.com/hurricanerelief. To donate and learn more about the AARP Foundation Miami Dolphins Hurricane Irma Relief Fund, click here.
Starter suspense: Byron Maxwell and Jordan Phillips are listed as starters at cornerback and defensive tackle, respectively, on the Dolphins’ depth chart, but Gase said Wednesday no decision had been finalized in terms of the starters at those positions. Maxwell was facing a challenge from Alterraun Verner late in training camp, while Phillips battled rookie fifth-round pick Davon Godchaux for the starting job alongside Ndamukong Suh. Gase said he wanted to see how the week of practice unfolded before making a decision on those two spots.
Call to the Hall: The Hall of Fame has announced its list of modern-era nominees for the 2018 Class, and it includes former Dolphins players Zach Thomas, Richmond Webb and tight end Ferrell Edmunds, as well as former Dolphins head coach Jimmy Johnson. Another nominee was linebacker Joey Porter, who spent three of his 13 NFL seasons in Miami. Thomas earned eight Pro Bowl invitations with the Dolphins, while Webb was selected each of his first seven seasons in the NFL after Miami made him the ninth overall pick in the 1990 draft. Edmunds made the Pro Bowl twice in five seasons with the Dolphins.