Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who did not practice all week with a knee injury, will not play against the New England Patriots on Sunday, according to a league source.
The Miami Dolphins are expected to rule Howard out of the game on Friday.
[Update: Dolphins coach Adam Gase confirmed the news to reporters Friday afternoon.
Gase also said guard-center Jake Brendel, who reinjured his calf during practice this week, also will not play against New England. Brendel started the past three games — two at left guard and one at center.
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Center Travis Swanson will return to the lineup this week after missing last week’s game against Buffalo. Swanson has started seven games at center for the Dolphins this season.]
And while the move is not a surprise, it is nonetheless a blow to the Dolphins chances in a divisional and conference game they need to win to remain viable in the race for the final AFC wildcard spot.
Howard leads the NFL with seven interceptions and is the Dolphins’ most productive playmaker on defense.
The Dolphins instead are expected to start Minkah Fitzpatrick and Bobby McCain on the boundary in their base defense. In the nickel package when McCain typically serves as a slot cornerback, the Dolphins will likely need to use Torry McTyer in the defense.
McTyer has played sporadically this year on defense but the past few weeks his work has come mostly on special teams. Rookie Cornell Armstrong may also get some snaps on defense.
The Dolphins are not without good news. Receiver Danny Amendola, who missed last week’s game with an MCL injury, is expected to play against his former team.