Miami Dolphins

Dolphins star Xavien Howard practicing as if he’ll play on Sunday. But should he?

Xavien Howard might play this week.

But the real question is, should he?

Howard, who has missed the past three games with a knee injury, practiced Wednesday. And if the Dolphins were still in the playoff mix, he would probably play Sunday in Buffalo.

But they have been eliminated, and so Sunday’s showdown with the Bills will determine little more than draft positioning.

So why would Howard, named the team’s MVP Wednesday, put himself at risk with a massive offseason looming?

UPDATE (2:22 p.m.): Gase said that Howard will not play Sunday unless he is completely pain-free. “We need to be smart with that,” Gase said.

Howard, who injured his meniscus in Week 13 and has not played since, is eligible for a contract extension when the league year turns over in March. He’s expected to cash in.

He just needs to stay healthy. But as the Dolphins have proven almost any week, that’s no guarantee in the NFL.

Meanwhile, neither safety T.J. McDonald (ankle) nor defensive end Andre Branch was present during the portion of practice available to reporters Wednesday. Danny Amendola was absent too, but he usually gets a rest day on Wednesday.

There was some good news on the Dolphins’ injury front, however. Linebacker Kiko Alonso practiced three days after he missed the Jaguars game with knee and hamstring issues.

Related stories from Miami Herald

Adam Beasley has covered the Dolphins for the Miami Herald since 2012, and has worked for the newspaper since 2006. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and has written about sports professionally since 1996.
Support my work with a digital subscription