Miami Dolphins

Struggling Byron Maxwell insists he hasn’t lost his confidence

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Andre Johnson (81) catches a pass for a touchdown as Miami Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell (41) is late with the tackle, during the first half of Sunday’s game at Hard Rock Stadium.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Andre Johnson (81) catches a pass for a touchdown as Miami Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell (41) is late with the tackle, during the first half of Sunday’s game at Hard Rock Stadium. AP

Last we saw Byron Maxwell, he was alone in the Dolphins’ locker room, staring into space.

He had just allowed a red-zone touchdown to Andre Johnson, one of many reasons the Dolphins lost their fourth game in five weeks.

Maxwell wasn’t in the mood to talk then, but on Thursday he explained what went through his mind during an apparent “Moment of Zen.”

“I was waiting for the traffic to go out,” Maxwell quipped.

Good to see the veteran cornerback is keeping his sense of humor. He needs all the perspective he can get.

Already this season Maxwell has been: benched, burned and bulldozed (by Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett).

It would lead most any player to experience a crisis of confidence.

Yet Maxwell insists he hasn’t lost his nerve.

“I’m very confident,” Maxwell said. “That’s where I got to live at. It’s the position I play and everything.”

He added: “You got to be confident in your ability and what you can do. I’ve been a good player in the league for a long time.”

Just not lately.

Pro Football Focus ranks Maxwell 58th among all NFL corners through five weeks. He’s a major reason why the Dolphins rank 28th in defense (401 yards per game).

“He has not played overall well,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. “He’s a guy that’s here every day. He’s working hard. He studies. He watches film.”

Joseph continued: “[But] it has not come together for him. That happens with players. Different scheme. I’m not totally down on Byron. He’s working on it every day. He wants to be good. When a guy is working at it every day, it’s going to turn for him.”

There’s no time like the present.

With Xavien Howard out indefinitely with a damaged meniscus, Maxwell will almost certainly find himself in coverage against Steelers superstar Antonio Brown on Sunday.

Brown has a league-leading 173 catches (for 2,281 yards and 15 touchdowns) since the start of the 2015 season.

“He’s quick,” Maxwell said of Brown. “He don’t stop. He keeps going. He can run all of the routes. Not many guys can do that. You can really key on a guy, but he can run all the routes. He can run 9-balls, he can run slants, he can run the whole route tree.”

Complicating the issue for the Dolphins:

Two of their two top three safeties are hurt.

Reshad Jones missed his second consecutive practice Thursday with a groin injury. He remains a game-time decision to play Sunday, and Gase said “we’ll see what ends up happening.”

Furthermore, Isa Abdul-Quddus has been limited in his participation the last two days with a knee issue.

When Jones was asked what it would take for him to play Sunday, he responded: “Just feel like myself. I don’t want to hinder the team, hold the team back. I want to be out there and be Reshad, be the guy that I can be for this defense and help this team win. … I’m pretty close. It’s just day-to-day. I’m going to do everything I can to be out there on the field on Sunday.”

As for Maxwell, he simply is not the same player he was in 2014 with the Seahawks, when he played well enough to earn a six-year, $63 million contract from the Eagles. He lasted just one season in Philadelphia before being traded to Miami last March.

Maxwell’s coverage hasn’t been great, but his tackling, particularly in the run game, has been even worse. He was so bad that Dolphins coaches benched him for the Bengals game. And when he returned Sunday, the Titans repeatedly ran right at him.

“I’ve got to bounce back,” Maxwell said. “This is the NFL. It’s a long season. You just got to be ready.”

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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