The Dolphins-Falcons preseason game is being moved to Orlando — but not for the reason most assumed.
Construction on the Dolphins’ home stadium remains on track, the team reiterated Wednesday.
“The league asked us if we would move the game up there,” Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel told the Herald. “As part of [Wednesday’s] Pro Bowl announcement, we agreed to do it.”
Dolphins-Falcons, scheduled for Aug. 25, will be held at the Camping World Stadium, formerly known as the Citrus Bowl. The stadium has recently undergone a $207 million renovation of its own. The facility will also host the 2017 Pro Bowl, and the preseason game will give the league a dry run in an unfamiliar facility before putting their all-star game there.
Dolphins season-ticket holders will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets and will receive a full refund for the lost home game, scheduled for Aug. 25. Their pre-sale is Monday; the public on-sale will be on June 9. Details are available at Dolphins.com.
Some outlets, including WKMG TV in Orlando, have reported that the Dolphins wanted to move the game because their half-billion dollar construction project won’t be finished in time.
That was not the motivation, the team insists, and construction is on schedule. Members of the South Florida media will get a chance to tour the currently unnamed stadium on Thursday.
Will the Dolphins take advantage of the additional week to complete what owner Stephen Ross called “one of the most difficult projects” of his career? Of course. But barring an unforeseen setback such as a hurricane, the stadium would have been ready to host games by Aug. 25.
The NFL is marketing the game as a celebration of Play Football Month. But perhaps the real motivation: the game gives league officials the chance to observe Camping World Stadium’s gameday experience and stadium operations ahead of the Pro Bowl.
▪ The Dolphins are going to cut at least one pretty good receiver between now and opening day. They simply can’t keep them all.
Kenny Stills, whom Adam Gase wanted last year in Chicago, probably is safe, even after catching a career-low 27 passes last year. The Dolphins traded a third-round pick for him just 15 months ago.
“Disappointed with the way things went for myself and the team last year, and all I can do is try to get better each year,” Stills said. “Definitely looking forward to more opportunities. But the main goal is to win.”
Just three months ago, Stills seemed to be a shoe-in to serve as the Dolphins’ No. 3 receiver. But he might have some unexpected competition in free-agent pickup Griff Whalen and rookie Leonte Carroo, a third-round pick.
Whalen said there were “quite a few reasons” why he signed with Miami, including scheme fit, roster makeup and new Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen, who coached Whalen in Indianapolis.
▪ More encouraging signs from Cameron Wake: the mending defensive end is now participating in team drills, just seven months after tearing his Achilles’ tendon. The Dolphins anticipate Wake will be ready for the start of training camp.
“Cam Wake is not a normal human,” said offensive lineman Billy Turner, who added that Wake is regaining his old form.
Speaking of Turner, he told reporters Wednesday that the Dolphins have “the potential to be the best offensive line in football.” Turner has worked at both guard and tackle this spring.
▪ Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Wednesday that he has spoken with Koa Misi since the Dolphins linebacker was involved in a fight outside a Fort Lauderdale nightclub last month.
“It was more me talking than him,” Gase said, describing the conversation.
▪ Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones remains away from Dolphins camp in protest of his contract situation. Rookie tight end Thomas Duarte cannot participate until after UCLA’s graduation. Five Dolphins were present Wednesday but worked to the side with trainers: Jermon Bushrod, Jelani Jenkins, DeVante Parker, Damien Williams and Jake Stoneburner.