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This former Dolphins special teams ace has some thoughts on the NFL's rule changes

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Michael Thomas, the former Miami Dolphins defensive back and special teams ace who is now with the New York Giants, has a lot of feelings about the NFL's new defensive rule change.

In simplest terms: He's not a fan.

"We've been the step-child and now it's even more impossible," Thomas said Thursday morning on WQAM's Joe Rose Show. "What more can you know ask us to do and continue to play this game the way it's supposed to be played?"

Under the new rule, which was approved at the league owners meeting in late March, players will be penalized 15 yards and potentially ejected from the game if they lower their head and make contact with their helmet.

"It just seems that players at every level are getting more comfortable playing with their helmets as a weapon rather than a protective device," NFL competition chairman Rich McKay said at the time, according to ESPN. "Therefore, we need a rule that is broad and puts that in context, and that's what we think this does."

While Thomas, 29, said he never intend to intentionally hurt another player, he nevertheless feels this rule change provides a staunch advantage to the offense.

"The name of the game — and you've been taught this since you were a little kid — is low man wins," Thomas said. "So if I'm going to make a tackle, a full-speed decision, I've already broke, the receiver or running back, let's say they already have the ball in their hands, if they turn up and see me ... their whole body's going to drop and I have to get low in order to create leverage and use power from the ground and complete the tackle. How are they going to officiate that?"
Thomas also touched on a few of the NFL's other new policies and rule changes. Among them:

▪ The response to the league's new national anthem policy, which requires players to either stand on the sideline or remain in the locker room during the national anthem.

While Thomas, who knelt on the sidelines last season, didn't directly speak on the new policy, he noted the positives that can come out of the players' response.

An example close to home: the Dolphins' creation of the Project Change college scholarship, which is awarded to one deserving student each year committed to enacting social justice change. The Dolphins on June 13 announced that Valicia Ross, who graduated from Olympic Heights in West Palm Beach and will be attending Florida State, was the inaugural schoalrship winner.
"I'm not able to ask them to create this scholarship program if this movement was never started," Thomas said. "There are, even though they are small victories, there are things that are coming out of this that are positive. We've just got to keep doing things like that in our community to make real change.
▪ The league's new kickoff rules. Thomas said he is OK with most of the new rules to be implemented. The one change he disagreed with is the new wedge rule, which now bans players from coming together to double block.

"Taking away that wedge, it takes away that fourth or fifth d-end, or fourth or fifth d-tackle, or that seventh or eighth offensive lineman who's trying to make the team," Thomas said. "They're less valuable now because they're not going to be able to play on kickoffs."

The Miami Dolphins will get an early start to NFL training camp this year

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NFL training camps are right around the corner.

And the Miami Dolphins will get an early start compared to the rest of the league.

The NFL on Thursday released the training camp report dates for all 32 of the league's teams. Miami's rookies will start on July 18. Veterans make their way to the team's practice facility in Davie a week later on July 25.
Only two teams have players reporting to camp before the Dolphins. The Baltimore Ravens' rookies begin camp on July 11, with veterans beginning their regiment on July 18. The Chicago Bears have rookies starting on July 16 and veterans on July 19.

Two more teams — the New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars — open camp on the same day as the Dolphins.

The Dolphins, who were 6-10 last season in coach Adam Gase's second season at the helm, will get a jump on their AFC East rivals. The New England Patriots begin reporting July 22, the New York Jets on July 24 and the Buffalo Bills on July 25.
The Dolphins open the preseason on Aug. 9 against Tampa Bay, whose rookies won’t report until July 23 and veterans until July 25.

Miami's regular season opener is set for Sept. 9 against the Tennessee Titans. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. from Hard Rock Stadium.

Dolphins scheduled to have first training camp practice July 26

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The Miami Dolphins, who are trying to bounce back from a disappointing 6-10 season, will have their first training camp practice July 26 at their facility in Davie. Rookies report for training camp July 18, while veterans report July 25.

The Dolphins concluded organized team activities and minicamp workouts June 14. The Dolphins did not specify whether the first practice would be open to the public, although typically many of the early practices are open to fans.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who sustained a season-ending injury to his left knee last year during training camp on Aug. 3, made it through offseason workouts without incident. He’s expected to go through the full complement of training camp workouts.

Tannehill didn’t wear a brace on his left knee during OTAs and minicamp. It’s believed he’ll occasionally wear a brace during training camp.

It’s unclear when the Dolphins will wear pads for the first time during training camp, but the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement prevents teams from wearing pads before the fourth day of training camp.

Coach Adam Gase said the main thing the team accomplished during OTAs and training camp was “probably fine-tuning a lot of things, working through some mistakes from earlier practices and we’re seeing a little more consistency and less mental errors, and see guys playing faster.”
Miami was trying to acclimate a number of new faces during offseason workouts, among them wide receivers Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson, center Daniel Kilgore, guard Josh Sitton, defensive end Robert Quinn, defensive tackle Akeem Spence and rookie safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, the first-round pick from Alabama, rookie tight ends Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe, and rookie linebacker Jerome Baker.

Miami, which uses offseason workouts to primarily work on the passing game under Gase (he thinks running plays are a greater injury risk), plans on strategically implementing an up-tempo offense during the season.

Gase said he thought players were able to process information more quickly on both sides of the ball than a year ago.

“I really think there has been a big difference,” he said. “We’ve thrown a lot of things at them. Guys have been able to take it from the meeting room to the practice field and execute it, play at a really good rate. That’s been a big improvement for us.”

Miami had a rough season in 2017, and it included Tannehill’s injury, replacing him with quarterback Jay Cutler, having the season opener against Tampa Bay postponed due to Hurricane Irma, linebacker Lawrence Timmons going AWOL before the opener at the Los Angeles Chargers, ex-offensive line coach Chris Foerster being caught up in a video scandal, linebacker Rey Maualuga getting involved in an early-morning incident at a Miami nightclub, and running back Jay Ajayi being traded to Philadelphia midseason.

The Dolphins open preseason Aug. 9 against Tampa Bay at Hard Rock Stadium and open the regular season Sept. 9 against Tennessee at Hard Rock Stadium.

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