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Garage gyms, California ranches and Rocky-style runs: How Dolphins train during coronavirus

Objective No. 1, even for NFL players, during the coronavirus crisis is to stay safe.

But finding ways to stay in shape when basically the whole country is shut down runs a close second.

Gyms are closed. The teams’ practice facilities are off-limits. Personal trainers are staying away.

So in this digital age, some of the newest Dolphins are going analog.

Ted Karras, the Dolphins’ starting center in 2020 after signing a one-year deal last week, is riding out the pandemic outside of Boston.

“My neighbor’s got a rack in his garage right across the street,” Karras said during a video conference with South Florida reporters Thursday. “I’m just running up and down the street. I’m doing band workouts. I’m doing anything I can to get it done. It’s pretty crazy.”

Karras continued: “I hope it calms down soon so I can get down there and get to work. I’m really excited to meet the guys. That’s my favorite part about football is being on a team with 50, 60 guys so I’m really looking forward to meeting some new people and getting to work.”

That won’t be for a while. Broward County, home to the Dolphins’ practice facility, on Thursday issued an emergency shelter-in-place for all nonessential employees beginning Friday.

But long before that, the NFL pushed pause on the league’s offseason program, which for the Dolphins was supposed to start April 20. Those voluntary workouts, practices and meetings have been postponed indefinitely.

That presents a real challenge for a rebuilt team like the Dolphins, who signed 10 players in the first week of free agency and have 14 picks in next month’s draft.

“I think the offseason’s really important for people coming into the league, people going to new teams, people working with new coaches,” said new Dolphins offensive lineman Ereck Flowers. “That’s the most important part of the offseason. It’s unfortunate, really. If it’s canceled you’re going into camp not really getting a chance to go over your playbook. Usually it’s a trial run before you go into the real deal.”

Flowers, like several new Dolphins, is hunkered down in South Florida. But he’s no visitor. Flowers is born and raised here and starred at the University of Miami. He always comes home in the offseason, and during the years, he has converted his garage into a private gym — perfect for just this moment.

His fitness center includes a treadmill, dumb bells — everything “except for the squat racks.”

Running back Jordan Howard, however, is in isolation in Aventura. Gyms are shut down so he can’t lift, so he’s maintaining his fitness with the most basic of exercises: running outside, just like Rocky Balboa.

New Dolphins linebacker Kyle Van Noy, meanwhile, is able to leave his house in Los Angeles for a workout while still adhering to social distancing guidelines.

“There’s a ranch 45 minutes away from me,” Van Noy said. “No one’s there. There’s a hill I can run and weights I can lift. Me, myself and I.”

Van Noy, and all the new Dolphins players, are still getting their bearings. But once things settle down a bit, he expects to use his Van Noy Valor Foundation to help those in South Florida impacted by the pandemic.

Emmanuel Ogbah, a Dolphins defensive end formerly of the Chiefs, said he’s doing push-ups and sit-ups at home.

He’s originally from Nigeria and had planned to go home to see family this offseason. Those plans, like most, got scrapped.

“It’s definitely scary,” Ogbah said. “Even though I’m a healthy guy, I don’t have a lot of respiratory problems, it’s hard looking at that. People need to stay inside for their families.”

Added Flowers: “Everything’s closed. You can’t go nowhere. I’m ready for this thing to be over with. It’s kind of boring.”

And before disconnecting Thursday, Karras told reporters: “I am looking forward to meeting you guys and shaking your hands when that is socially acceptable again.”

This story was originally published March 26, 2020 5:13 PM.

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