The 2018 Miami Dolphins just cannot have nice things. Just after being named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 13, Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard has been ruled out of the team’s Week 14 game. The NFL’s interceptions leader will not be on the field as the Dolphins try to stop Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
The Dolphins really just cannot have nice things.
“We just haven’t gotten him out there moving around,” head coach Adam Gase said of Howard and what is wrong with his knee. “I’m not going to … especially against these guys. He’s got to feel good with all of his movement skills – lateral – his ability to protect himself. You’ve got guys trying to cut him and things like that and you can’t do that. We’ll give it another run next week and see where we’re at and we’ll go from there.”
Defensive coordinator Matt Burke said of playing without Howard this weekend, speaking on Thursday before Howard was officially ruled out. “Obviously, he’s a great player,” Burke stated. “He’s been outstanding for us this year. Any time you have the possibility of not playing with one of your better, if not best, players, it’s … But that’s this league. We’ve had a lot of injuries. We’ve dealt with those things and it doesn’t do me any good to worry about my feelings about it. If he’s available to play, he’ll play and if he’s not, he’s not. Whoever is out on the field has to get some stops. I try not to spend too much time examining my feelings. I could probably do a lot of woe-is-me from the whole season. It doesn’t really matter. We’ll play with the guys that are ready to play. If ‘X’ is one of them, that’ll be great. Hopefully he’ll continue his great season. If not, we’ll figure it out with the rest of them.”
The Dolphins also ruled out center Jake Brendel, who re-injured his calf, an injury that had him start the season on injured reserve before being one of Miami’s two designated to return players for the season. Brendel is the third center Miami has used this year, with Daniel Kilgore starting the season before landing on injured reserve. Travis Swanson then took over the starting role, with Brendel at left guard in place of Josh Sitton and Ted Larsen, both of whom had been injured playing that position. Larsen is now back at left guard and the Dolphins are hopeful Swanson will be back to replace Brendel at center.
Listing him as questionable for the game, Gase said of Swanson’s ability for the weekend, “I mean he had a good week. I hope he can go because we’re low on numbers.”
Miami’s fourth player on the injury report is wide receiver Danny Amendola, who has a knee issue, but seems determined to play against his former club. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said of Amendola on Thursday, “The guy, he’s so competitive. He’s so tough. It’s all about team for him. Whatever he can do to help the team, he’s going to do. He’s very unselfish that way. If he can’t go, then he can’t go and he’ll be the first one to tell you; but he’s going to fight and claw and scratch to get out there, because it is about the team. He works his tail off and that competitive spirit we talked about five or six weeks ago just shows up with him all the time.”
Gase, on Friday, seemed optimistic that Amendola will be available for the offense on Sunday, saying, “Yeah, I think he did everything he could this week. We got him moving around and running a lot of different routes. It gives us a chance.”
The Patriots side of the injury report was surprisingly short given New England’s tendency to list every player possible on the report this late in the season. They only listed tight end Dwayne Allen (knee) and cornerback Stephon Gilmore (ankle) on the report, both categorized as questionable.
The Patriots and Dolphins will kickoff at 1pm ET on Sunday from Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Miami (6-6) will be looking to avenge a Week 4 blow-out loss to the Patriots and keep themselves in the running for the Playoffs. The Patriots (9-3) can win the AFC East division title for the tenth straight season with a win and keep the pressure on the Kansas City Chiefs for the top spot in the AFC playoffs, including homefield advantage throughout the post season tournament.