Rookie Minicamp Q&A: Tony Pape

Former University of Michigan tackle Tony Pape was a seventh-round pick in 2004 who left the Dolphins last summer after playing in NFL Europe. Pape is back with the Dolphins after asking Coach Nick Saban for another shot and he saw his first action during the rookie minicamp. Here's what he had to say after the first of the three days of the minicamp.

Q. Why did you quit last year?

A. "Last year, I got sent to Berlin and played there for an entire season. I came back, and I was just kind of worn out. It was a long season over there, and as soon as I came back, I was coming into camp. I just didn't have the right mind-set to think I would be able to make the team. So I stepped away, and I got my focus back. I went home, worked out for six or seven months, and I'm in the best shape of my life now. I'm just glad I get an opportunity that the Dolphins let me come back."

What was the hiatus like?

A. "I keep telling all the guys that are complaining in there, "I promise, guys, you don't want a real job because it's not that fun."

Q. What did you do?

A. "I worked at ... a sports and wellness facility that helped specialized kids and kids with special needs. I worked with a lot of autistic kids, obese kids, kids with ADD and ADHD. It was a great experience for me, and I loved doing it. But I missed football and I wanted to come back."

Q. When did you decide you wanted to come back?

A. "Trust me, it was shortly I had left. It's not that I regret my decision. I'm glad I did it, because my attitude now toward things is completely changed. I feel great about it."

Q. What position are you playing?

A. "I'm working at tackle, but he told me to be ready for some guard though for this camp. I'm just glad I can get out here and play again. It feels good. I haven't played in almost a year. It's good to get out here. It's a good group of guys."

Q. How were you received by your teammates?

A. "The guys are great. A lot of the guys I came in with — Rex (Hadnot) and Vernon (Carey) — were giving me some crap. But it was good. They were really nice."

Q. What did Hadnot say?

A. "The white Ricky. The white Ricky is back. He picks up and disappears and comes back nine months later."

Q. What was your conversation with Saban like?

A. "It was really good. I was surprised. That was the first time since I came back that I really sat down and had a talk with him. He was really straight-forward with me. He looked me in the eye and said, 'If you're committed to making this team and committed to getting better, then you're more than welcome to come back.' I shook his hand and said, 'You have my word.' It was a good meeting."

Q. Given that you have quit once, why should people take you seriously?

A. "My commitment when I wasn't here to my conditioning was unprecedented. They saw what I had been doing. I promise you, there's not one offensive lineman who will beat me in a conditioning drill right now. They saw that my commitment off the field when I wasn't here was enough."

Q. What is your current weight?

A. "295. I've lost about 20 pounds. I'm stronger than I was. I'm in better shape. I feel better. I'm ready to play football. I'm excited to be here."


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