DAVIE, Fla. — It was easy to spot Miami Dolphins defensive back Louis Delmas while taking in the team’s training camp at Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Tuesday morning. When the music starts, just look for the dancing.
Often seen busting a move in between drills, Delmas has been a breath of fresh air for a Dolphins team that had to endure both a bullying scandal and a December meltdown less than a year ago. Whether it’s through dance, jokes or simply words of encouragement, Delmas is always looking to lighten the mood for his teammates.
"This game is all about fun," said Delmas, who even after having a dreadlock torn out during practice, still managed to crack a smile. "At the end of the day it is a business, but if you’re not having fun and if you’re not loving what you do for a living, it’s not going to be fun at all. That’s something we, the defensive backs, pride ourselves on. At the end of the day, if everybody else is down, we gotta pick everyone back up."
Needing to fill the void left by departed strong safety Chris Clemons, the Dolphins inked Delmas to a one-year, $2.25 million contract this offseason — a low-risk signing for a player that recorded 64 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks last season for Detroit. And although other teams showed interest, the former North Miami Beach High School standout insisted that the possibility of joining Miami’s budding roster was too much to pass up.
"You know what? To be honest with you, it wasn’t about the Miami Dolphins at all," Delmas said of his decision to join the team this offseason. "It was about a young team that was willing to win and has the work ethic to win.
"If this team right here would have been in Alaska, with the same group of guys, I would have signed with Alaska. So it’s not about the Dolphins, it’s not about anything else but the team, the coaching staff. And I love the coaching staff, I love the team and I look forward to going out there this season."
Although his defensive prowess — especially against the run — will be an invaluable asset to the Dolphins, Delmas’ greatest contribution through the first several days of training camp continues to be his fun-loving attitude and ability to motivate his teammates as they work to get back into game shape. Leading by example, Delmas has told fellow players to look to him when they feel they are down to their last bit of energy as the muggy Florida mornings push them to the brink.
As for what to expect when camp wraps up and the regular season begins, Delmas is adament that the offseason additions of both he and veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan could elevate the Dolphins pass defense from 16th in 2013 to one of the best in the entire NFL this season.
"The best of the best," Delmas said when asked about what he expects from the team’s secondary this year. "To be honest with you, I don’t think there is another secondary out there that has the talent, speed and physical ability to go out there and prepare for each and every game among us like that."
While this quick turnaround would certainly come as a surprise, cornerback Brent Grimes, who earned a trip to the Pro-Bowl in his first season with the Dolphins, is confident that Delmas’ presence will yield big results.
"He’s a high-energy guy, I’m he same way," Grimes said of Delmas’ effect on the team. "A high energy guy, when you look at him, picks you up. It’s a good addition to the team. Not only can he play the game, but he’s a great guy in the locker room and a great guy on the field."
When asked who the better dancer is, however, Grimes concedes the title to his new teammate.
"Probably Delmas," Grimes said. "I’d give it to Delmas."
Off the field, Delmas has already begun to ingratiate himself to a Dolphins fan base filled with many who are still hesitant to forgive the team’s recent indiscretions. For nearly 20 minutes after Tuesday’s practice, he signed autographs and took pictures with any fan who asked — even scaling the fence at one point to greet a child that couldn’t quite reach. While the controversy of last season may take some time to subside, Delmas enjoys showing his appreciation for those who have stuck with the team.
"A true fan is a true fan," Delmas said. "They are going to stick with the Miami Dolphins through the good and the bad. Last year, unfortunately, it wasn’t what they had envisioned, but this year’s a new year."