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What The Return of Xavien Howard Means For The Dolphins

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins activated cornerback Xavien Howard from the reserve/COVID-19 and physically unable to perform list (PUP) Thursday.

Howard was placed on the PUP list on July 28, as he continued his rehabilitation process following a knee surgery he underwent eight months ago. After 30 days off of training camp, his missed time could be detrimental to his performance in a year like 2020.

During his absence, rookie’s Noah Igbinoghene and Jeremiah Dunson, plus second-year players Nik Needham, Ken Webster, Jamal Perry, Deatrick Nichols and Tae Hayes all saw increased reps in camp over the past month.

Obviously, getting the younger guys more reps will benefit the Dolphins this season and in the long haul. Lining up against receivers DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and Jakeem Grant definitely help the growth process of the cornerbacks.

Upon Howards return, many of the CB’s will not see the field as much, which will slow down the learning process for the younger guys. Yet, having two talented cornerbacks in-front of them should motivate them to do their best.

Asking questions and taking knowledge of any chance they get. Webster and Nichols are going to need a strong push at the end of camp to make the roster. No preseason this year presents problems for players who may be on the bubble. Every snap for them will be crucial.

Howard, 27, put the NFL on notice following a stellar 2018 season in which he matched Damontae Kazee and Kyle Fuller for a league-high seven interceptions. Unlike Kazee and Fuller, who played in 16 games, Howard appeared in just 12 and missed the final four games of the season.

The 6-foot-1, 198-pounder also made his first Pro Bowl and was named to the NFL Top 100 at No.55 overall and fourth among cornerbacks behind Stephon Gilmore, Jalen Ramsey and Patrick Peterson.

Howard’s 2019 campaign was nowhere near as successful, as he played in just five games before undergoing knee surgery which would end his season.

Now the questions arise about Howard’s health and ability to avoid injury. Miami signed him to a five-year, $76.5 million extension with $46 million guaranteed after his breakout season, but he hasn’t proved his worth yet.

This offseason, the Dolphins went all in on buffing their secondary and signed top cornerback Byron Jones to a five-year contract worth $82.5 million.

The Dolphins organization and fans hope this turns into money well spent, producing plenty of interceptions and little production from opposing receivers is the goal.

As Howard returns to camp, the coaching staff will get its first look at what the starting defense will look like this season. He’ll look to return to his All-Pro form which made him one of the best and highest-paid corners in the league and create a dynamic duo with Jones.

Miami born and raised. AA in Mass Communiations/Journalism and attending Full Sail University's Sportscasting Program.

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