By Abraham Gutierrez
As the Miami Dolphins prepare to make their trip out west for a Week 15 date with the San Diego Chargers, Fins fans would be glad to know that help might be on the way for this offense, as Dan Campbell tries and finish out the year on a positive note. The reason being is that on Wednesday, the Dolphins had two offensive starters returning to practice, which is always a good sign heading into gameday.
According to reports, right tackle Ja’Wuan James and wide receiver Rishard Matthews were both cleared to rejoin practices and could be ready to go when the Fins visit the Bolts Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium.
James has been nursing an injured toe, while Matthews suffered cracked ribs in Miami’s 20-38 loss to the New York Jets last month. In their absence, the Dolphins offense has suffered a major downfall, as the passing game, which was the team’s best area early on in the season, is all of the sudden the weakest link.
James has missed six games in 2015, while Matthews was cleared to return to practice for the first time in two weeks. The Dolphins right tackle has started in seven games for this offense, while the team’s second-leading receiver resumes practices having caught 43 passes for 662 yards and four touchdowns.
“It’s been tough. I’m just trying to do what I’ve got to do to get healthy,” said James, a second-year pro out of Tennessee. “For me, it’s a confidence thing [to return] and know my foot is healthy, and that I feel the same [as before].”
After starting off the season at a decent pace, the Dolphins offense all of the sudden ranks among the worst in the National Football League. Heading into this week’s game versus the Chargers, Miami’s offense ranks 20th in rushing yards (98.0), 22nd in passing yards (231.0), 24th in points scored (20.3), and 27th in total yards per contest (329.0).
Despite the fact that he hasn’t played in almost three weeks, Matthews remains the franchise’s second leading receiver this season. In his fourth season out of Nevada, the 26-year-old from San Diego, California trails only Jarvis Landry in this department. Thus far, Landry leads the way with 89 receptions for 920 yards and four scores.
Other Dolphins players listed in Wednesday’s Week 15 injury report include running backs Lamar Miller (ankle) and Damien Williams (back), along with guard Billy Turner (calf), the aforementioned wide out Landry (knee), and linebacker Jelani Jenkins (ankle) defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (calf), and cornerback Bobby McCain (concussion).
As a result of those injuries, the players that did not participate in practice this week were Jenkins, McCain and Mitchell. Then there were those that were only able to partake on a limited basis, which include James (toe), Landry, Matthews, Miller, Turner and Williams.
The Dolphins and Chargers are scheduled to battle it out Sunday afternoon at 4:05 p.m. ET. The Fins are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Giants Monday night, while the Bolts have dropped two straight to their division rivals Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com and other online publications.