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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

Even as Hurricane Irma bore down on South Florida late last week, the Dolphins knew with certainty they'd play the Los Angeles Chargers this Sunday in California. That meant, regardless of the situation back home, they must move forward and prepare for that game.

Their owner, Stephen Ross, did everything he could to assist in that difficult task.

Ross and management decided Friday to have the team fly to Oxnard, Calif., where they arranged to use the Dallas Cowboys' training camp facility for the week before heading south to Carson for Sunday's game against the Chargers. The Rams also offered to share their practice facility in Thousand Oaks.

Oxnard is a little over an hour northwest of Los Angeles and about two hours away from Stubhub Center, the 30,000-seat soccer stadium in Carson that the Chargers are using for the next three seasons.

Players were given the green light to leave South Florida last week once their season opener against Tampa Bay was ruled out -- the league rescheduled it for Nov. 19 at Hard Rock Stadium -- and many already had headed north. Those who were still home, as well as their families, were flown to California to escape the storm and settle in for the upcoming week.

Ross will set up a flight for family members to go home as soon as it's safe for them to return.

The Dolphins originally would have flown to California on Thursday, which is their standard routine for West Coast games. With the Tampa Bay game pushed back, the best option for a semi-normal work week was to get to the Los Angeles area as early as possible.

That's the approach coach Adam Gase was advocating for when it first became evident that Irma might disrupt the opening week. As the teams, league and government debated whether to hold the game as scheduled, relocate it or postpone it, Gase kept his players and staff locked in to their regular practices and meetings.

"We're going to keep practicing and getting ready for the game until somebody tells us different," he said the day before the NFL's announcement.

Players who didn't travel on the team charter Friday were expected to report to Oxnard by Monday night. The team will meet today and practice the next three days. In a typical week, the Dolphins practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with a walk-through Saturday, so this will be identical.

Ross and the Dolphins also have asked the NFL if it could move the Oct. 1 London game against the New Orleans Saints to Miami, but the league said no, according to a league source.

In a worst-case scenario, Miami could be on the road without a return to South Florida for three weeks.

The Dolphins hope to return to South Florida to practice in advance of their game at the New York Jets on Sept. 24. The Dolphins have arranged a contingency plan -- practicing in West Virginia -- if unable to return to South Florida after the game, a source confirmed.

Miami is also assessing any damage at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens and the team's practice facility in Davie, a source confirmed. There was tornado activity in the vicinity of the stadium, and so a proper assessment must take place.

Hard Rock Stadium was constructed to withstand winds from Category 4 hurricanes. By the time Hurricane Irma hit mainland South Florida, it wasn't that strong.

The Dolphins are scheduled to play at the Chargers on Sunday, followed by the Jets in New Jersey and the Saints in London. Miami is not scheduled to play again at Hard Rock Stadium until Oct. 8 against the Tennessee Titans.

jlieser@pbpost.com Twitter: @JasonLieser jschad@pbpost.com

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September 12, 2017
 
 
 

 

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