Miami Dolphins rookie cornerback Xavien Howard is set up to be the savior of the secondary if he is able to shake off a knee injury and arthroscopic surgery, that has kept him sidelined throughout the team’s training camp and preseason schedule, ultimately earning the starting position opposite Byron Maxwell. The expectations are there, and Dolphins fans are clearly hoping that, when Howard is able to get back on the field, he will solve one of the few starter position battles left for the Miami preseason. The wait for Howard to return appears to be over, finally.
According to head coach Adam Gase Howard, along with fellow rookie, running back Kenyan Drake, will make his debut during Thursday’s fourth and final preseason game. The Dolphins will host the Tennessee Titans in the debut of the renovated home for Miami, now called Hard Rock Stadium.
"We're going to play them both," Gase told the media on Sunday. "And really right now we're going to go through the next couple of days of practice just to kind ... of see where they're at from a conditioning standpoint. I think they're in good shape, but obviously it's not dynamic football shape right now."
The Dolphins will be looking for Howard to beat Tony Lippett and Bobby McCain, both of whom have shown flashes of potential but been inconsistent thus far this summer, for the staring position. Drake will likely serve as the third or fourth running back on the depth chart, behind Jay Ajayi and Arian Foster, with Isaiah Pead and Damien Williams also looking to make the roster.
"We'll have probably a set number of plays they can go and try to stay in that range, not go over," Gase added. "We don't want to overdo it. I think right now they need to play. Those guys, if they're active for the Seattle game, it'd be nice for them to have experienced an NFL game."
The Dolphins open the regular season on September 11 at the Seattle Seahawks.