Coach Brian Flores is stressing personal responsibility

The Dolphins have seen what’s happened to the corona-virus afflicted Marlins. And they know in order to have any chance to make it through an NFL season, they’ll need tremendous discipline and personal responsibility.

“People tend to forget you can't just catch COVID inside the facility, you can catch COVID outside the facility,” cornerback Bobby McCain said. “So it's everywhere. You’ve got to be disciplined as a team, you’ve got to understand that you've got to hold your brothers accountable, as far as stepping out and going to dinner with a lot of people, going to nightclubs, going to bars, being with different women.”

Miami coach Brian Flores has repeatedly raised the importance of taking care of yourself and taking care of your teammates.

“Whatever you bring home, you're bringing to the family,” McCain said. “It's definitely going to take a lot of discipline. The most disciplined team will end up playing the most games and being the healthiest at the end of the day."

The Dolphins are, of course, wearing masks and having their temperatures taken. And they’re being tested each day. And they’re wearing tracers that beep if they get too close to a teammate.

Miami was one the first teams to have their safety plan approved by the league. Among the steps the club took was install clear dividers between each stall in the locker room.

"I wasn't too nervous going in, because I know they work real hard making it safe for us,“ McCain said. ”As I got in the building, I see all the extra precautions and all the things that they put in place to make sure we're safe, to make sure we're six feet and no one's too close. The way they keep the facility clean, they do a great job. I want to thank our staff, the Dolphins' staff, just for the job they do. We all feel pretty safe."

Veteran offensive lineman Jesse Davis noted this is not the time for players to do what they’ve always done, which is practice and play through illness.

“It’s such a serious matter and we took an approach just like you don’t know what the guy is going home to,” Davis said. “Is he going home to a 70-year-old grandmother that’s living with him, or a pregnant wife, that kind of thing? So you’ve got to be selfish in that regard of, hey, you gotta take it seriously. If you have any symptoms, make sure you let everybody know. It’s not just about the guy next to you.”

Several Dolphins have landed on the NFL’s COVID-19 list, including linebacker Jerome Baker and snapper Blake Ferguson. Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick did note that anybody who contracts the disease did not necessarily act irresponsibly. For example, you can catch it without having gone to a bar, and instead may have been infected by a family member.

“It's something that we will continue to just be extremely careful with, and again, for the NFL and teams, there's kind of a negative stigma I think that may be attached to getting coronavirus,” Fitzpatrick said. “But as we've seen it can kind of happen to anybody at any point in time, and we all just have to try to do our best to take care of not only ourselves but each other.”

Fitzpatrick added that the Marlins outbreak has been eye-opening, but not totally unexpected. Fitzpatrick said it’s important to mitigate risk, but that in the end, nobody is going to be able to predict how this NFL season will unfold.

Flores is stressing that without an NBA- or NHL-like bubble, the club has to create their own best version of a bubble. Flores notes that any one person, player, coach or staffer, can make a poor choice that contributes to a “wildfire.”

“I think for each player individually, they’re going to have a responsibility to themselves and to this team to make some sacrifices in the building and outside of the building,” Flores said. “ If we don’t make the right decisions, if we’re in bars and we’re in crowded restaurants and we’re at concerts, the likelihood of us bringing the virus into the building is very high. If we don’t do those things and we distance and we quarantine in our homes and the hotel and wherever, then the likelihood goes down significantly.”


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