New Dolphins coach Gase eager to test toughness in camp
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) On a typically steamy summer day in South Florida, first-year Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase wore two layers of T-shirts – short sleeves over long sleeves – and jeans. With his first subtropical training camp about to begin, he's unfazed by the weather.
''I'm a little disappointed, to be honest with you,'' said Gase, a Michigan native who began his coaching career at Louisiana State. ''Baton Rouge is way hotter than it is down here. So if I hear anybody complain about weather, I'm going to be severely disappointed.''
When camp opens Friday, it will be about as grueling as the collective bargaining agreement allows. Gase said his No. 1 goal will be to test the mental fortitude of his players, all of them new to him.
''What are we going to do when it gets tough?'' Gase said Tuesday. ''Because it's going to be tough in camp. There's not going to be any special treatment. We're going to make it hard, and we're going to see when it really gets tough who's going to rise to the top, and who's going to fall off.''
Gase takes that approach mindful he inherited a team perennially chasing New England in the AFC East. Miami hasn't finished above .500 since 2008 and is starting camp with a new coach for the sixth time since 2004.
''We need to get better,'' Gase said. ''We were 6-10 last year. We've got a lot of work.''
Gase acknowledged health will determine how hard he can push. If injuries mount, he'll be compelled to let up.
Some players will need careful monitoring. Defensive end Cameron Wake and newly acquired running back Arian Foster are returning from Achilles' tendon surgery. Second-year receiver DeVante Parker has had health issue since joining Miami. Rookie running back Kenyan Drake hurt his hamstring in June minicamp.
All are expected to be on the field Friday. But rookie cornerback Xavien Howard will be absent – he'll start camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list following arthroscopic knee surgery.
Howard was competing with second-year pro Tony Lippett for a starting job, and depth at cornerback is thin.
''It's great for Tony – it's more reps for him,'' Gase said. ''And it gives a bunch a guys a chance to step up and see who wants to make this team.''
Another camp priority will be for quarterback guru Gase to mesh with his new protege, Ryan Tannehill, who has had a busy summer. Tannehill became a first-time father last week, and also has been absorbing Gase's playbook.
The new coach is confident Tannehill has a firm grasp of the offense.
''He has showed me he can handle what we're doing and he's ready to go,'' Gase said. ''It's going to be about the rest of the guys hanging with him.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/steven-wine