By Abraham Gutierrez
With their backs against the wall, the (1-4) Miami Dolphins prepare for a must-win showdown when the (4-1) Pittsburgh Steelers invade South Florida in Week 6 of the 2016 NFL season. Losers of two straight games, the Fins will need all hands on deck going up against one of the most physically demanding squads in football. However, according to the information submitted by head coach Adam Gase in this week’s injury report, Miami’s depth chart presents more questions than answers.
For starters, there are two Fins players that have been ruled out of Sunday’s game. Former Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron, who hasn’t practiced in three weeks, will miss his third consecutive game as he continues to recover from a concussion suffered Sept. 25 against Cleveland. Because this is the fourth concussion in as many years, not only are the Dolphins handling his injury with kid gloves, but there’s plenty of concern regarding his long-term health and future with the organization.
With Cameron riding the pine, Miami promoted Dion Sims to the starting spot, MarQueis Gray (questionable in Week 6 due to a calf injury) took over the second slot, and the well-traveled Dominique Jones, who recently made his way back to South Florida for a second stint with the Fins.
The second Miami Dolphins player that’s expected to be in street clothes come Sunday afternoon is cornerback Xavien Howard (28 tackles, forced fumble, 2 passes defended). The 23-year-old rookie out of Baylor did not participate in this week’s practice and is expected to sit out for an unspecified amount of time due to a knee injury.
Howard, who remains in the active roster despite undergoing knee surgery (to repair a meniscus tear) on Oct. 8, suffered the injury during Miami’s preparations for Tennessee in Week 5. It’s worth noting that last week’s surgery marks the second procedure since June that Howard has undergone for damage done to the same knee.
“[Howard] got tangled in one-on-ones with Kenny (Stills),” said Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. “It was an innocent play. He jumped and came down on the knee. He didn’t even realize he was hurt at the time. I watched it on tape and it was that play.”
In Howard’s absence, the Dolphins coaching staff decided to give cornerback Byron Maxwell (20 tackle, 2 forced fumbles) a second chance by bumping him up into the starting lineup. The former sixth-round pick out of Clemson started in the first three games of the 2016 NFL season before being benched during Miami’s 22-7 loss to Cincinnati in Week 4.
“You have to be confident in your ability and what you can do,” Maxwell said as the team prepares to take on Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh’s high-powered offense. “I’ve been a good player in this league for a long time. I know, at the end of the day, everything I do will come back to technique when you’re out there on the field.”
Even though there were eight additional players whose names got penciled into this week’s injury report, not one of them is listed as probable and/or doubtful. Instead, the following players’ participation is questionable when the Dolphins lock horns with the Steelers Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on CBS Sports.
Miami Dolphins’ Injury Report & Game Statuses (2016 NFL Week 6)
- (TE) MarQueis Gray (Calf) — Full Participation in Practice
- (S) Reshad Jones (Groin) — Did Not Participate In Practice
- (T) Laremy Tunsil (Ankle) — Limited Participation in Practice
- (LB) Jelani Jenkins (Groin) — Limited Participation in Practice
- (RB) Arian Foster (Hamstring) — Limited Participation in Practice
- (S) Isa Abdul-Quddus (Knee) — Limited Participation in Practice
- (G) Anthony Steen (Ankle) — Limited Participation in Practice
- (WR) Jakeem Grant (Ankle) — Full Participation in Practice
- (TE) Jordan Cameron (Concussion) — Did Not Participate In Practice
- (CB) Xavien Howard (Knee) — Did Not Participate In Practice