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Miami Dolphins News And Notes: COVID-19 Begins To Impact As Training Camp Is Underway

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

As the Miami Dolphins had players report to training camp last week, COVID-19 has begun to affect the team. And with the team making plenty of roster transactions last week (July 27 – August 2), let’s revisit what news you may have missed.

COVID-19 Strikes Roster, Leaves Six Players On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Last week, six players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list: long snapper Blake Ferguson, defensive tackle Benito Jones, cornerback Cordrea Tankersley, linebacker Jerome Baker, defensive lineman Zach Sieler and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers.

After striking their next-door neighbor Miami Marlins in the morning, COVID-19 has begun to impact the Miami Dolphins as they begin training camp.

The roster designation means one of two things: either the player has tested positive for COVID-19 or he’s been quarantined after having been in close contact with people that have.

Defensive lineman Benito Jones was placed on the reserve list on Monday, but was cleared two days after. Ferguson was also activated on Sunday.

Miami’s roster stands at 78 players with the moves throughout the week, but will rise to 82 once Flowers, Baker, Sieler and Tankersley come off the reserve/COVID-19 list. It’ll climb to 84 players once/if Xavien Howard and Calvin Munson are reactivated. Miami will have to trim their roster to 81 by August 16.

Teams could have up to 90 players in camp if they split practice sessions into two squads, which could require teams to use both stadium and regular practice facilities, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

Miami Claims CB Javaris Davis And DT Ray Smith Off Waivers

The Dolphins took advantage of the waiver wire and claimed rookie cornerback Javaris Davis and defensive tackle Ray Smith off waivers last week.

Davis who went undrafted out of Auburn in the 2020 NFL Draft, had been waived by the Chiefs with a nonfootball injury designation. The defensive He played in 49 games for Auburn, starting in 35 of them.

The 5-foot-8, 183-pound Davis intercepted two passes in each of his four seasons with the Tigers. He’ll join his former teammate Noah Igbinoghene in Miami’s secondary.

Smith went undrafted in 2019 and was signed to the Detroit Lions’ practice squad before being cut in August 2019. The 6-foot-1, 302-pound Smith then signed with San Fransisco’s practice squad in December 2019 and spent the offseason with the team before being cut on July 28.

Smith was a four-year letterman at Boston College, playing in 40 games with 34 starts, garnering 138 tackles, eight passes defensed, 1.5 sacks, and one interception.

Dolphins Waive TE Michael Roberts And CB Ryan Lewis

In an effort to trim their roster to 81 before August 16, the Dolphins waived tight end Michael Roberts and cornerback Ryan Lewis last week.

Roberts, a former fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, has been unable to overcome the injury bug throughout his career. He spent two years with the Detroit Lions, where he garnered 13 receptions for 146 yards (11.2 average) and three touchdowns in 23 games.

Roberts suffered a shoulder injury in December 2018 and was waived after not passing his physical as part of a trade with the New England Patriots. The 26-year-old underwent reconstruction surgery for his left shoulder in August 2019—the same shoulder that landed him on injured reserve in 2018.

Roberts signed with the Dolphins on February 9, 2020, but the recent acquisition of Chicago Bears tight end Adam Shaheen explains the move.

Lewis entered the league as an undrafted college free agent in 2017, and after stints with the Cardinals, Patriots, Eagles, Colts and Bills, the Dolphins claimed him off waivers last October.

In 13 games with three starts for Miami in 2019, Lewis accounted for 28 total tackles and one interception off a Baker Mayfield pass in a Week 12 meeting against the Cleveland Browns. A hamstring injury placed him on the injured reserve and forced him to miss the season’s final three games.

Lewis has since been claimed off waivers by the Washington Football Team.

Xavien Howard To Start Training Camp On PUP List

After undergoing knee surgery eight months ago, cornerback Howard will continue to rehab as training camp begins.

The Dolphins placed Howard on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) Tuesday, the first day veterans were due to report to the team’s facility for COVID-19 testing.

That means Howard, 27, cannot practice until cleared by team medical personnel and may attend team meetings and work out. Once he practices, he gets taken off the list. If Howard finishes training camp on the PUP list, he’ll be placed on the regular-season list, which does not allow him to practice or play the first six weeks of the season.

Howard, who is under contract with the Dolphins until 2024, is poised for another year of stardom as he’ll pair up with free-agent signing Byron Jones in the secondary. But first, Howard will have to be cleared by Miami’s medical staff.

Miami also put linebacker Munson the active/non-football injury list (NFI).

The NFI list is for players who are unable to practice at the start of training camp due to an injury that’s unrelated to NFL football. The rules on when a player on the NFI can get back to the field are the same as for those on the PUP list.

Munson, who signed with the Dolphins in December 2019, played in two games Dolphins last season, recording seven tackles (five solo).

Brian Flores Talks Training Camp, Calls QB Contest ‘An Open Competition’

As the newly built Dolphins transition into training camp, they’ll have to make up for lost time in the spring and summer while preparing for the regular season without a preseason.

“I think every rep’s going to be important,” Flores stated. “Every walk-through every rep, every practice rep. We won’t have any preseason games. That’s all we’ve got. I don’t think there’s any point in dwelling on it or being upset about the circumstances. We just have to make the most of the opportunities that we’re going to be given.

“Every rep in individual, those are evaluations. And the improvement those guys make in practice, in walk-throughs, are going to be what either keeps them on the tam or doesn’t keep them on the team.

With no preseason games, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick emerges as the favorite to start in Week 1 over rookie Tua Tagovailoa. But Flores made it clear that Fitzpatrick, along with the rest of the team, will have to earn their role in camp.

“You always want competition in training camp,” Flores added. “Every position is an open competition. Obviously some players are further ahead than others. We all kind of know and understand that, but, yes, we want competition. There’s no jobs that are just going to be handed out.”

As for Tagovailoa, who didn’t start camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), he passed his physical and will be ready to practice, Flores confirmed.

Nonetheless, Flores is asking for the 5th overall pick to do the same as every other player: “Come in every day, having gone over the install the night before, mentally prepare to go out there and practice, physically prepare to go out there and try to improve every day.”

Fitzpatrick On Tua: “I Know I’m The Placeholder”

Dolphins’ incumbent starting quarterback Fitzpatrick recognizes that his days as the starter are numbered, and he’s ready to root for the future of the franchise.

“I don’t know how much time it will be before Tua is in the lineup,” Fitzpatrick told reporters last Saturday. “I know I am the placeholder and we’ve already had that conversation. I told him, I’m going to do the best I can to lead this team and win football games when I’m out there.”

The veteran met Tagovailoa last week and said the two have already formed a bond.

“Meeting him in person finally the other day, I’m really excited,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think we hit it off. Even though I’m an old geezer to him, we’ve meshed personality-wise and I’m excited to work with him.”

Fitzpatrick has made it clear that he’ll continue to compete for a starting job, but he’s also excited to see the fifth-overall pick on the field.

“And whenever it is that Tua gets his chance, whether it’s early or late or whenever it is, I’m going to be his biggest cheerleader,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think I have a unique perspective just from the career I’ve had and I was excited they drafted him.”

Dolphins Sign Rookie Long Snapper Rex Sunahara

The Dolphins added a second long snapper to the team, signing rookie Rex Sunahara last Saturday.

Sunahara served as West Virginia’s primary long snapper for each of the past two seasons and was selected to play in both the NFLPA Collegiate All-Star Game and the Hula Bowl.

The 6-foot-6, 242-pound Sunahara was a semifinalist for the 2019 Patrick Mannelly Award, which is given to the nation’s top long snapper.

The Dolphins’ other long snapper is rookie Ferguson, who was drafted in the sixth round (No. 185 overall). 

RB Malcolm Perry And LB Andrew Van Ginkel Recover From COVID-19, Donate Plasma

The Dolphins confirmed last Thursday that running back Malcolm Perry and linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel tested positive earlier this offseason but have already recovered.

Following the recovery, Perry and Van Ginkel, along with other players and staff members that have recovered from the virus, donated plasma to OneBlood in an effort to help patients fighting coronavirus.

“I was surprised initially but was happy because I was presented with the opportunity to give back and donate plasma and help people in need,” Perry said. “Being able to give back to people who weren’t fortunate enough to react the same way you did to the virus and give back to the community was important.”

Dr. Richard Levine, an infectious disease physician for Doctors Hospital, a part of Baptist Health South Florida, said transfusing convalescent plasma earlier in a coronavirus treatment can prevent the progression of the infection.

People who recover from coronavirus infection have developed antibodies to the virus that remain in the plasma portion of their blood, according to OneBlood. Transfusing the plasma that contains the antibodies into a person still fighting the virus can provide a boost to the patient’s immune system and potentially help them recover.

Welcome To Challenge Flag

Check out 305Sports’ recent episodes of ‘Challenge Flag’, in which we’ll give our takes and challenge/overturn the thoughts of others.

Episode One: Who Will Be Miami’s Most Improved Player In 2020?
Episode Two: Which Dolphin Was Left Out Of The NFL Top 100 Players List?

Follow @305Sportss and @AnthonyYero1 for more Miami Dolphins news.

Born and raised in Miami, Anthony is the Sports Editor for his school paper and a High School B-Ball player. Founder and Owner of 305Sports, Anthony covers all Miami Sports.

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