The Miami Dolphins will have their eight draft picks and 10 undrafted free agents in town beginning Thursday, and rookie minicamp will go from Friday to Sunday. And the rookies will not touch the field at the team's training facility once during those three days.
No pads. No helmets.
No practice during minicamp.
No, really. This is happening. And it is really smart. And radical.
Adam Gase has been planning for months as coach of the Dolphins -- and for over a year before he became an NFL head coach -- how he would handle something that seems so mundane to the rest of the world as a rookie minicamp. And he's got ideas. And he's implementing those this week.
And they will not include actual practices on the field.
Instead Dolphins rookies will spend all their time during this minicamp in classroom sessions learning how to be Miami Dolphins. That means they're going to get schooled on the schemes they're playing, their assignments, and everything football that involves the brain.
But they're also going to get a little polished up as people. They're going to get life labs to help them with nutrition, financial planning, sports science, and dealing with the media -- the last of which is a big part of their job believe it or not.
The point of all of this is two-fold and here is the genius part, in my opinion.
Gase wants to combat the rookie wall syndrome that seems to stop some rookies dead in their tracks come late November or December. There is a theory these young men hit that wall because they're playing four preseason and 16 regular-season games in the NFL and usually play 12 games -- maybe three more if they're on the best teams -- in college.
There may be validity to that.
But this: The Dolphins understand every single one of these rookies regardless of where they went to school, just played their 2015 seasons and as soon as that was over they began training.
They trained for the Indianapolis Combine.
They trained for their Pro Days.
They trained for the various workouts they did for teams privately.
And they also spent much of the past six weeks or so flying all over the United States (greatest country on Earth) to meet with the various team coaches, general managers and others who might be deciding whether to pick them.
That takes a toll. So Gase believes it's time to take the foot off that pedal for these rookies. He doesn't want to burn them out physically.
Meanwhile, Gase wants these guys more mentally ready to be a factor the next time they get on the field, which will be with veterans. Dolphins vets have been in their conditioning program for four weeks and just had a minicamp of their own where they got coached on the playbook and such.
So Gase wants to get the rookies as caught up as possible up mentally as quickly as possible so when they get on the field, there is less hesitation and they play faster.
So what's the downside?
The Dolphins don't think there is any but if you have to nitpick, it means the Dolphins won't be bringing 30-40 players to camp as tryouts. Teams typically do that so they can actually field a weekend of rookie minicamp practices. The players gladly come for a chance to catch someone's eye and get a big break.
None of that this year.
So do the Dolphins miss out on an opportunity to find ... to find ... I cannot think of a player who was discovered as a tryout and went on to greatness in the NFL. Not this century, anyway.
The Dolphins simply believe their energies should be better focused on getting the 10 or so rookies that are actually going to make this team ready to contribute as quickly as possible rather than finding that improbable one kid who comes out of nowhere and takes the team to the Super Bowl.
I think the odds favor the Dolphins in this regard.
The Dolphins recently had a veteran minicamp. Here are some highlights of that...