Dolphins’ Xavien Howard dealing with knee injury now; coach addresses special teams concerns

MIAMI GARDENS — Add Xavien Howard to the Miami Dolphins’ long list as injury concerns head into Sunday’s crucial Week 17 AFC East game against the New England Patriots.

The Dolphins’ four-time Pro Bowl cornerback was on the team’s injury report Thursday as a knee injury limited practice that day.

Howard was not present in Miami’s locker room during the 45-minute meeting at the team’s facility that was open to the media following Thursday’s practice.

The knee ailment was new to Howard. He has dealt with a groin injury for most of the first half of the season, but was last listed as dealing with a groin injury before a game against the Detroit Lions on Oct. the match of.

Howard, who has played in 14 of Miami’s 15 games this year, hasn’t been as adept as he usually is, intercepting just one pass so far in the 2022 season. That’s the NFL leader in interceptions since entering the league in 2016, with 28 — two better than the Broncos’ Justin Simmons.

Howard is one of three Dolphins selected to the Pro Bowl this season, along with wide receiver Tyreek Hill and left tackle Tron Armstead.

Additionally, Miami right tackle Brandon Shearer was on Thursday’s injury report with a shoulder injury. He showed up in the dressing room after training and looked fine.

The Dolphins missed practice Thursday as they did Wednesday as they recover from injuries: Armstead (toes/pecs/knees/hips), quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (concussion), outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (ankle/hand), linebacker Alec Ingold (thumb), wide receiver River Cracraft (calf) and tackle Eric Fisher (calf).

Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram and running back Raheem Mostert received veteran rest on Wednesday. Ingram returned to full participation Thursday, while Mostert was limited as part of his rest schedule.

Outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips (toe) and safety Eric Rowe (quad/knee) and Clayton Fejedelem (knee) experienced limited participation for the second straight day.

After missing five games from November to early December, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is still listed on the injury report as his knee is being treated, but he is training at full capacity.

For the Patriots, safety Adrian Phillips missed Thursday’s practice with an illness. Running back Damian Harris sat out Thursday’s game for personal reasons after being limited Wednesday with a thigh injury.

Six Patriots missed practice for the second straight day: wide receiver DeVante Parker (concussion), tight end Jonuh Smith (concussion), tackle Udenika Just (ill) and defensive back Jay Len Mills (groin), Jake Jones (knee) and Marcus Jones (concussion).

For the second straight time in New England, the restricted players are: tight end Hunter Henry (knee), cornerback Jonathan Jones (chest), running back Ramondry Stevenson (ankle) and wide receiver Tayquan Thornton (knee).

Dolphins special teams coordinator Danny Crossman tackled a 93-yard return allowed by Packers returner Kayson Nixon in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss.

Crossman said: “It’s a combination of a really good comeback who’s had a lot of success getting back on the pitch and being able to make nice cuts and get some guys out of their gaps or trying to do too much. Lots of things.” “Example of a great returner. He sold well, kept his feet on the ground, and got a guy out of trouble.”

On Miami’s next kick off after the opener, the team attempted an apparent burst shot that allowed Green Bay to start near midcourt, but Crossman said it was just an error by kicker Jason Saunders.

Coach Mike McDaniel raised concerns about his special teams in Monday’s comments.

“I think we definitely cost the team this week,” he said after Sanders also missed a field goal in the second half. A couple of times, there was definitely some play, but a couple of times it was about positioning and missed chances to score. “

He was disappointed after what he thought was an aggressive special teams game against the Buffalo Bills last week.

“It definitely didn’t transfer over two games, so you have to really sort out why,” McDaniel said.

An aggressive special-teams play came when nose tackle Raekwon Davis made a ball-fixing attempt, which Crossman said was a byproduct of Miami’s preparations for a ball-fixing at that spot, as Packers coaches had tried in similar situations. history.

Dolphins quarterbacks coach Darrell Bewell is a head coaching candidate for this upcoming cycle, including the vacant position after the Denver Broncos fired Nathaniel Hackett.

Does Bevell see himself eventually taking the head coaching job?

“I’ve been asked that question a hundred times,” he said Thursday, while claiming his focus is facing the Patriots this week. “Yeah, it’s something I absolutely want to do. Whenever the time comes, I’ll be ready, but right now, it’s a huge opportunity for us.”

Bevell is a longtime NFL offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach who worked with Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford and Trevor Lawrence prior to Tagovailoa. He also finished the past two seasons as interim head coach — with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 and the Detroit Lions in 2020.