The Miami Dolphins secondary continues to be a unit ravaged by injury during the 2022 season. Cornerback Xavien Howard returned on Sunday as the team played the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6 of the NFL season, only to see cornerback Nik Needham fall to the turf in the second quarter. Needham was shadowing Vikings receiver Adam Thielen on a 1st-and-10 play with 6:05 remaining in the second quarter when he appeared to come up leg injury, diving to make the tackle but clearly in pain.
Needham stayed down on the field after the play and a cart had to come out to take him to the locker room. He was holding his left ankle.
After the game, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting it is a torn Achilles tendon for Needham. The injury will cost Needham the remainder of the 2022 season. He is scheduled to see a specialist on Monday and will likely be setting up surgery in the near future.
A 2019 undrafted free agent, Needham has quickly become a key piece in Miami’s secondary. Coming out of UTEP, Needham found himself starting 11 games as a rookie. He played every game in 2020, with six starts, then played every game with five starts last year. He came into this season as the primary slot cornerback for the Dolphins, but Byron Jones landing on the physically-unable-to-perform list pushed Needham into the second cornerback position. He has appeared in all six games for the Dolphins this year, starting five of them. He has 21 tackles and two passes defensed this year.
With Needham out and Jones still on the PUP, Miami will now have Howard as the top cornerback, while Noah Igbinoghene, Keion Crossen, Kader Kohou, and Justin Bethel move up on the depth chart. Miami could look to add a free agent or make a trade if Jones’ recovery continues to be slow, potentially adding a veteran presence to the group.