Miami Dolphins rookies break down all they’ve learned about defensive scheme

“Community is important,” Dolphins rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “Because community helped me get through things when I was younger.” (Palm Beach Post Photo)

CORAL SPRINGS — Every Miami Dolphins rookie capped off their first camp on Tuesday, as the group addressed a large group of students at Forest Glen Middle School about the importance of character.

It was a welcome activity for the newcomers, who have been swimming in new information since reporting to the Dolphins last week, just ahead of the veterans.

“Somebody could take something real small from you and just apply it,” defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said, after speaking with the youngsters.

“It’s a blessing to be a part of an organization that prides itself on giving back to the community,” linebacker Jerome Baker said. “It’s definitely fun.”

Fitzpatrick and Baker are expected to make immediate impacts for for the Dolphins on the field. And after only a few meetings and walkthroughs, they already have an understanding about the style of play the organization desires.

“So far it’s a fast defense,” Fitzpatrick said. “After every single play they’re having us break on the ball. Five plus yards. A lot of teams don’t do that. You just run your plays and that’s it. We’re in walkthroughs and we’re breaking on the ball like we’re breaking on a route.”

Miami coaches wanted to give the rookies an idea of what to expect.

“Definitely one thing they emphasize is flying to the ball,” Fitzpatrick said. “I mean, any great defense flies to the ball. The great defenses I was on in the past, that’s what we did. Just got to the ball. When you do that, you can create turnovers and make plays and of course do your job. They emphasize that a lot. Coach (Matt) Burke and coach (Tony) Oden they both emphasize just do your job and you’re going to make plays.”

Baker said the Dolphins’ rookie camp left him with a clear understanding of expectations.

“Aggressive,” Baker said. “Aggressive. Set edges. They definitely pride themselves on that. Play fast. Set edges. Just do your assignment. Even on special teams it’s do your 1/11th. Do your job and the rest will handle itself.”

Baker said Burke spoke over and over about the importance of setting edges.

“At Ohio State we did a similar thing with setting edges,” he said. “When you do that, the rest of the squad is coming. That’s the one thing that stuck out to me. Set edges and wait for your boys to come.”

Baker said he enjoyed a talk given to the rookies by former Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington earlier Tuesday. Fitzpatrick also spoke about the value of just acclimating to surroundings.

“I would say just getting a feel for everything,” Fitzpatrick said. “Whether that be the play book, the coaches, the other players, the facilities, the area. I think just a couple days to get you a good feel of everything. Just getting comfortable with the whole situation. I was just somewhere else just a couple weeks ago and then I’m dropped off here. Learn the playbook. Here’s your IPad. Now you’re staying in a hotel for the next month. So just getting comfortable with the playbook. And I think we got that done. I’m really comfortable where we’re at and ready to get started.”

Fitzpatrick learned quickly that Burke, Miami’s deep-thinking defensive coordinator, can show contrasting off- and on-field personas.

“He was real quiet, actually,” Fitzpatrick said. “He was sitting in the cafeteria. And then once I saw him on the field and in the meeting rooms he was a completely different dude. He was our leader. He seems like a great leader. He has fun with it at the same time. It seems like I’m going to love playing for him.”

The Miami Dolphins honored Forest Glen Middle School for their participation in the Character Playbook program, an education initiative focused on youth character development and building healthy relationships. (Palm Beach Post Photo)

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