The reduced number of total practice days and limited number of opportunities to work with pads on has coaching staffs spending more of their coveted on-field time harping on fundamentals.
That has been the unintended side effect of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, as teams donning pads in training camp this week are doing so for the first time since last season.
The Miami Dolphins practiced in pads for the first time Sunday, and the coaching staff had to spend time breaking some bad habits that had formed over months of working in jerseys and shorts. It began in the trenches, with an emphasis on leverage and technique.
"We talked to the team in general about playing with leverage," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. "So you have to remember they've had 10 OTA practices, a minicamps, two shells practices. It's the first time they've had pads on in a long time.
"What happens a lot in shells is guys, they don't have shoulder pads, so they get used to grabbing and reaching. For the first time today, that was a point of emphasis from our standpoint."
The Dolphins will have fewer than a dozen practices in pads before the regular-season opener, and a handful more in shells.
Philbin was particularly pleased with the play of the linebackers, who he said looked faster as a group. The team also worked heavily on third downs and other down-and-distance situations with the coaches retreating to the sideline before retreating to the film room to review.
"I thought our guys, for the first time, it was a good practice," Philbin said of Sunday's workout.
--Running back Lamar Miller reported to training camp around 221 pounds, up five pounds from last season as he attempts to earn a spot in the rotation following the signing of Knowshon Moreno. Philbin likes what he has seen, but one of Miller's true tests remains improving his blitz pickup.
"He looks stronger than he's ever been. I don't think he's sacrificed any speed whatsoever," Philbin said of Miller's additional weight. "He's athletic enough to get in front of guys, but at some point in time also in pass protection you have to anchor and you have to firm the middle of the pocket, especially when those guys are, so much in football there's a lot of double-A (gap) stuff now, there is a lot of crisscrossing and you have to have a back ... it's who can step up and take those guys on."
--Dion Sims has been receiving the most reps with the first team among tight ends, with Mike Egnew, Arthur Lynch and Harold "Gator" Hoskins also in the mix. The Dolphins feature multiple roles for the tight ends in their offense, but Sims possesses the potential to generate movement in the running game while also being a factor downfield.
"His body type and his ability lead us to believe that he can be one of those type of players," said Philbin.