Raekwon McMillan never suited up for the Miami Dolphins in the preseason, but he doesn’t expect it will hamper him too much Sunday when the Dolphins open the regular season against the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium.
McMillan, who started all 16 games for Miami last season, has been a full participant in practice this week in Davie and said he expects to be “100 percent” when the season begins this weekend after missing most of the preseason with an undisclosed injury. The only question is how his playing time might be limited because he didn’t take part in any sort of live action in August.
“I’ll for sure be 100 percent, but like I said I’ve got to work my way back and make sure I’m fully prepared to be out there,” the linebacker said. “My coaches are not going to put me in any bad situations, so I trust anything they do. So whatever happens on Sunday and however they want to play it, we’re going to do it.”
McMillan, who wore the microphone to receive defensive play calls in 2018, isn’t sure whether he will have the same duties this season. His relative lack of familiarity with the new scheme, plus his uncertain playing time, would seem to make it challenging. The former second-round pick didn’t play in any of the Dolphins’ preseason games and missed the significant majority of training camp.
Still, McMillan is listed atop Miami’s depth chart at one linebacker position, making him one of two players listed in starting roles despite being hampered by injuries throughout the preseason.
Wide receiver Albert Wilson is also listed as a starter despite missing most of the preseason with a hip injury. Although he played in Miami’s preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints last Thursday in New Orleans, Wilson has been limited in practices at the Miami Dolphins training facility leading into the regular season.
Brian Flores didn’t specify what sort of role he expects Wilson to play Sunday. The coach is happy with the receiver’s progress, however.
“I like where Albert is. He’s come a long way from where he was early in training camp. This guy has worked day after day after day and he’s gotten better,” Flores said. “When you get to starters, backups — a lot of guys play. You’re in the game, you’re in there for a reason.”
Wilkins recalls matchups
It was perhaps the signature performance of Lamar Jackson’s Heisman Trophy-winning 2016 season, and Christian Wilkins had an up-close seat to the action. The Louisville Cardinals had climbed into the Top 25 ahead of a meeting with the top-ranked Clemson Tigers and Jackson nearly single-handedly willed Louisville to a road upset. The quarterback threw for 295 yards and ran for another 162, forcing Clemson to stage a late comeback to avoid the upset.
Wilkins, now a rookie for Miami, was only a sophomore at the time, but he recorded five tackles and 1 1/2 tackles for loss in the Tigers’ win. He still remembers how difficult Jackson, now Baltimore’s quarterback, was to contain.
“We thought we were doing well on him and then all of a sudden he’ll break a 40-yard run, break a 20-yard run here and there,” said Wilkins, whom the Dolphins took with the No. 13 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. “And then just looking up you’re like, ‘Dang, he’s really moving the ball on us.’”
Wilkins faced Jackson twice while he was at Clemson, and the two will meet again Sunday in Miami Gardens when Miami and the Ravens open the regular season against one another.
Jackson has been a primary focus of the Dolphins’ preparations after he put together an impressive rookie season for Baltimore, particularly because of his ability as a runner. If Jackson takes a leap in Year 2, it will because of the passing ability Wilkins saw while they were both in college. The defensive tackle is prepared to see it.
“The kid’s pretty good,” Wilkins said. “It’s weird. You don’t play too many guys like that. Obviously, everybody talks about his ability to just run, and how great he is with his feet and everything, but he can throw it pretty well, too. That’s something that’s pretty underrated in his game, but I think he can really throw the ball, too. He’s not just a runner. He’s definitely so dynamic.”
This and that
▪ Linebacker Trent Harris was the only player from the active roster absent from practice Thursday. The former Miami Hurricane was claimed off waivers from the New England Patriots on Sunday.
▪ Wilkins, who famously didn’t have a car while he was a star defensive lineman for the Tigers, finally purchased one last month, he said. “It’s nothing luxurious,” Wilkins said of the car, which he named “Truth.” “She’ll be three weeks old on Saturday.”