The Miami Dolphins are preparing to bring in some reinforcements as the 2023 NFL season advances to Week 5. Cornerback Nik Needham and guard Robert Jones will return to practice beginning on Wednesday, according to head coach Mike McDaniel. Needham began the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list while Jones was placed on injured reserve. Returning to practice starts a 21-day clock on both of them, with the team having to either move them back to the 53-man active roster or leave them on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
Needham is continuing to recover from an Achilles tendon tear sustained in October 2022. He has played in 51 games over the past four seasons for the Dolphins, including 27 starts. He has 192 career tackles with three sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, 25 passes defensed, and six interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. He has been running and cutting in the build up to Wednesday’s practice, but his stamina could keep him on the sideline this week. Miami’s secondary could use the addition of Needham, especially following last week’s struggles for cornerback Kader Kohou. The Dolphins could look to move Needham into the starting lineup opposite Xavien Howard, keeping Kohou in the nickel cornerback role that seems to fit him best.
Jones returning to the active roster could open some options on the offensive line for Miami, where injuries are starting to mount. Tackle Terron Armstead is expected to miss a few weeks, though McDaniel said it is still too early to determine if an injured reserve placement was going to be required for the Pro Bowl player, and center Connor Williams is ailing. Jones sustained a knee sprain during the preseason and, as soon as his stamina is built back up, he will give Miami much-needed depth on the offensive line.
Not returning to practice yet is running back Jeff Wilson, Jr., who landed on injured reserve to start the year with a rib injury. According to Wilson’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, the running back has been medically cleared to return to football activities, but the team appears to be taking it cautiously with him.
The Dolphins host the New York Giants on Sunday as part of the NFL’s Week 5 schedule. They then host the Carolina Panthers in Week 6 before a Week 7 game at the Philadelphia Eagles. Needham and Jones will either be activated and ready to play sometime during these next three games, or they will miss the entire 2023 season.