During the Miami Dolphins’ 2021 training camp, Albert Wilson’s return was a major talking point. At a position of incredible depth for the team, Wilson was standing out as a player who was ready to make a major contribution in the season. Then the regular season started and Wilson may as well have still been on a COVID-19 opt-out status.
Not only was nothing happening on the field for Wilson, but Wilson was barely on the field. In Weeks 8 and 9, he played five snaps, combined. He was not just not being targeted. He was not even playing.
Then Week 10 happened. With Miami continuing to see their one deep wide receiver corps devastated by injury, Wilson burst back onto the scene. “We challenged Albert in practice that he was going to have some opportunities and he came through,” Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said on Friday. “I think that was the case for him and Isaiah Ford and (Adam) Shaheen. When you need a team effort every week and we got contributions from a lot of players on the team – offense, defense and special teams – that’s what you need in this league. We need as many contributions from as many guys as we can. Albert is part of that and is always part of those conversations. We’ve got to do a better job of trying to get him the ball and get the ball in his hands. And he’s got to come through.”
On Thursday Night Football, Miami faced a team that had beaten them by a combined 121 points over the last three games and had won eight of the last nine meetings. The Baltimore Ravens have owned the Dolphins over the past several years, but not on Thursday. Wilson was asked to play a large part in the offense on Thursday, and he came through.
man. great team win!— Albert Wilson II (@iThinkIsee12) November 12, 2021
He caught a team-high four passes for a game-high 87 yards, including a gorgeous 64-yard catch and run on a wheel route when the Ravens just forgot he was on the field. Wilson was fast, he was involved, and he looked like the player Miami had in 2018 when he averaged 15 yards per reception. And it was not just in the passing game. Wilson carried the ball twice for 19 yards, nearly a third of Miami’s total rushing yards on the night. He was constantly in motion for the offense, with fake jet sweeps throughout the night. He was a weapon Miami was looking to get involved, and he responded.
“It felt great,” Wilson said after the game when asked about being an impact player again for Miami. “It felt great to get back out there and pretty much be involved and bring what I can bring to the offense tonight so it was good. It’s a blessing to be back out there for sure.”
Of the 64-yard reception, Wilson explained, “It was a look that we were getting all night and I just put the speed on to see if he was going to see me. He didn’t happen to see me and it worked out pretty good.”
64 YARDS. Tua Tagovailoa to Albert Wilson for a clutch big gain. #FinsUp— NFL (@NFL) November 12, 2021
: #BALvsMIA on NFLN/FOX/PRIME VIDEO
: https://t.co/svgTJkbKF5 pic.twitter.com/2jTbDWfCFx
It was not perfect though. “Yeah, I was tired as soon as I got the ball,” Wilson said, laughing as he thought back to the play. “That was a long jet sweep, for sure.”
The Dolphins did recognize the possibility of a play like that succeeding throughout the night - though maybe not as well as it did in that instance. “For sure,” Wilson said when asked if he was surprised he was that wide open. “We ran the play a ton of times the whole game. It’s just different looks, changing your speed before the play, continue with it up the sideline kind of made it look like a different play. It was cool.”
Wilson was asked how he envisioned the 2021 season going for him, especially after the hot start he had in training camp prior to being injury. Did he anticipate having a larger role in the offense, more like what happened on Thursday? “As far as being involved in the offense? Of course,” he replied. “I’m here to make plays and do what I can for the team so, of course. I plan on being a part of the offense every week but it goes how it goes.”
He continued, “I think I’ve been practicing great for the past – since I’ve been out there. It’s just got to get things going. Sometimes things don’t fall in place like they should and tonight was one of those days it fell in place.”
The Dolphins moved to 3-7 on the year, but still have three more games before they reach their bye week. The long break from a Thursday night game to next Sunday’s game at the New York Jets is a welcome stretch for the Dolphins. The team has a few days off before getting back to work on Monday next week, and, based on Thursday night, they need to make sure they are working Wilson into the gameplan the rest of the season.