The Miami Dolphins will begin their offseason strength and conditioning program on Monday and that will mark the first official milestone of the team re-gathering for the first time since the 2015 season. But the truth is the NFL is a full-time, year-around proposition and these guys have been working out at Dolphins camp on their own for weeks and, yes, some have even been doing on-field drills on their own for quite some time.
And the latter is the impressive part. Even though head coach Adam Gase has not yet handed over his playbook to any player -- firstly because that's against the NFL rules, secondly because he's still tweaking the thing and doesn't want to hand over an incomplete work -- players in the Miami passing game have been working on running plays they expect will be in Gase's repertoire for nearly seven weeks now.
Back in late February, quarterback Ryan Tannehill started watching tape of the what the Chicago Bears did on offense under Gase in 2015 and what the Denver Broncos did under Gase as their offensive coordinator in 2014.
And, on his own, Tannehill put together a series of plays and route tree those Denver and Chicago offenses ran as staples.
"I've watched more Denver stuff so far," Tannehill said. "I'm sure I'll get into a little more Chicago stuff. But I've watched more Denver stuff at this point, just seeing things they did well there with Peyton (Manning). I'm excited about what I see. I think the more I watch, the more excited I am about the things they did and the things we're going to be doing."
Obviously, the route running and throwing sessions are simulations of what the players believe Gase will ask them to do eventually. But the fact Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and other receivers are regularly getting together with Tannehill to work on this stuff well before they have to speaks to many things -- all of them good.
It speaks to initiative by the players to be better under a new system.
It speaks to leadership by Tannehill -- which has been under assault in some corners -- in that he led the effort and mustered his teammates.
It speaks to great work ethic that goes above and beyond at this stage of the offseason.
It speaks to a new enthusiasm within certain sectors of the Dolphins locker room that has already embraced Gase's coming playbook.
"We've been throwing for several weeks now, working with the guys off campus," Tannehill said. "We throw twice a week and we have several guys that are showing up consistently. We're getting better. That's the funnest part for me, seeing guys getting better."
So what do the workouts consist of?
"We run routes a little differently than we have in the past," Tannehill said. "That's an adjustment for everyone. It's an adjustment of getting the ball out on time and the different angles guys are coming out, and the different ways we're moving at the top of routes now."
And Tannehill reports that the drills have started to look better and better -- even if they are against air.
"It's exciting for me from Day 1 to Day 2 to Day 3 to Day 4 to see the improvement of guys running the routes and me throwing the routes and seeing no balls hitting the ground," the quarterback said. "You see the first day, balls were hitting the ground from (being) rusty and receivers are not coming out (of their routes), or they're unsure at the top of the routes, or I'm misjudging the throw.
"Then a few days into it, we have no balls hitting the ground for an entire workout. It's exciting for me to see that improvement not only for myself but my receivers as well."