Dan Campbell is using his first practice as interim head coach to send a message to the Miami Dolphins players: It's time to get tougher.
Campbell pulled the team together in practice, then split the squad into offense and defense for an Oklahoma Drill on Wednesday, per NFL Media's Jeff Darlington.
The Oklahoma Drill is a gauntlet involving one blocker, one tackler and one ball-carrier going full-speed in a confined space. Although it has been used for generations, it has come under controversy in the modern concussion awareness era.
Darlington poked a little fun at Campbell's obvious effort to distance himself from the listless Joe Philbin era:
At its core, the drill is about sustaining blocks on offense and fighting through blocks on defense. After watching the Dolphins go through the motions for four games, Campbell understands the need to emphasize those fundamentals while setting a physical tone.
"To me, the best teams that I've been a part of are the ones that, during the week, they go after each other," Campbell said at his introductory press conference on Monday. "Whether it's practice squad versus the defense. They're giving the look of practice squad versus offense, but it gets heated. And it's intense, and it's people that are fighting to win. They want to get noticed or they want to do their job. It's not just going through the motions."
Campbell then added Wednesday: "All I wanted to see is guys come out and compete, and violently compete and I felt that. I think they felt that too. I don't think, I know.
" ... That's why they have those pads on for. Got to learn how to use those things again."
The "new sheriff in town" is an old gridiron trope. It's also a welcome philosophical change in Miami.