Miami Dolphins rookie cornerback Xavien Howard injured his knee earlier this week in practice. On Friday, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase told the media Howard had to have surgery on the injury this week, “So he’s going to be obviously out this week,” Gase explained. “He had a meniscus repair.”
Howard underwent surgery on the same knee in June. “Same knee,” Gase continued, referencing the June surgery. “Different than what it was the first time.”
“He got tangled in one-on-ones with Kenny (Stills),” Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said of how Howard’s knee injury occurred. “It was an innocent play. He jumped and came down on the knee. He didn’t even realize he was hurt at the time. I watched it on tape and it was that play.”
The Dolphins do not have an estimate on when Howard is going to be fully rehabbed from this latest surgery. “As of right now, he’ll still be on the active roster,” Gase told the media. “It’s really going to be kind of how the rehab goes, how fast everything…as far as him being able to come back. Obviously for us, it’ll be a week-to-week deal. We’ll just kind of see how well everything basically takes for him. It’s tough when you just went through this and then now you have to go through it again. It becomes part mental and physical at this point.”
Howard started each of the first four games for the Dolphins, recording two passes defensed, one forced fumble, and 28 tackles. Howard was selected in the second round of this year’s Draft.
The Dolphins will now have to bring back Byron Maxwell, who started the first three games this year after the team traded for him from the Philadelphia Eagles in the offseason. Maxwell was benched last week and did not play a snap in the team’s 22-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Tony Lippett will likely start opposite Maxwell while Howard is out.
“He will,” Gase said of Maxwell returning to the starting lineup. “He’s going to go back in there. That’s why in this league, you can’t get all upset about what happens one week from the other because things change fast.”
Gase also addressed how Maxwell responded to the demotion he received last week, “Obviously when it initially happened, he wasn’t happy; but he never changed in practice. You could tell because we know. The way he was … (his) professionalism was great the last 10 or so days.”
“Obviously, (we are) disappointed by [Howard’s injury]; but we’ve got Maxwell back in the fold,” Joseph added. “He has worked hard. His attitude has been great. I’m excited to see him play come Sunday.”
Joseph also addressed what he is looking for in terms of improvement from Maxwell, “Overall improvement. He had some issues with soft coverage and obviously missed tackles, but the last two weeks in practice, he has rectified those things. He’s a press corner and I want him to press most of the time. He has got some splits where he was forced to play off and it led to him being off too often. The tackling stuff, he has to tackle better, he has to play better. He recognizes that, and he’s working that way for us.”
The Dolphins struggled last week trying to contain the Bengals’ A.J. Green, who caught ten passes for 173 yards with a touchdown. This week, the Dolphins will face their former receiver Rishard Matthews, who has 12 receptions and leads the team with 180 yards receiving this year, and Tajae Sharpe, who has 16 receptions for 172 yards. Running back DeMarco Murray leads the team with 19 receptions thus far this year.
Kickoff on Sunday is at 1pm ET.