Xavien Howard could make his long-awaited return this week.
The Dolphins’ rookie cornerback hasn’t played since late September. But after practicing all three days last week, he again worked on a limited basis Wednesday and could suit up Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
“There's absolutely a chance,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Wednesday. “Once again, we're going to be smart. He hasn't played in a while.”
The Dolphins have been incredibly cautious with Howard, who injured the same meniscus twice in three months. He needed surgery each time.
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During his rehab, the Dolphins have weighed the short-term benefit of having him on the field for their stretch run against the long-term risk of bringing him back too soon. The latter consideration has won out, and Howard has been a spectator on Sundays for the past two months.
That could change this week if Howard responds well in practice.
“We were able to do some competitive things with him,” Gase said. “I'm excited to see when we can get him in a real game. At the same time, we're going to be smart.”
The Dolphins’ secondary has played surprisingly well without him. Byron Maxwell has been one of the league’s better corners the second half of the season and opposing quarterbacks have had a passer rating of just 85.6 this year, the seventh-best mark in football.
In other injury news, center Mike Pouncey (hip), wide receiver DeVante Parker (back), linebacker Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand), defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (back) and running back Kenyan Drake (knee) all sat out Wednesday’s session.
Along with Howard, three other Dolphins were limited in their participation: tackle Branden Albert (wrist), guard Jermon Bushrod (calf) and guard Laremy Tunsil.