Miami Dolphins Week 18 Injury Report: Xavien Howard Ruled Out, Jaylen Waddle’s Status Up in the Air

The Miami Dolphins will be without CB Xavien Howard in Week 18, but WR Jaylen Waddle and RB Raheem Mostert both have a chance to play.

It all comes down to this. It’s a winner-take-all showdown in the AFC East in Week 18, as the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills face off in Hard Rock Stadium with the divisional crown on the line.

The winner is guaranteed the No. 2 seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs through the Divisional Round. Should the Dolphins lose, they’ll fall to a Wild Card spot and travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. For the Bills, a series of permutations are on the table, including missing the playoffs altogether.

Miami’s injury report heading into the week was, as usual, longer than the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, though the team has far fewer actual game-day designations than seen in the past few weeks. CB Xavien Howard has been ruled out, but several other injured players have a chance to play. Let’s break it down.

Jaylen Waddle, Raheem Mostert, and Jerome Baker Questionable for Week 18

Both wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (ankle) and running back Raheem Mostert (ankle) were banged up in Miami’s Week 16 win over the Dallas Cowboys, and both missed the team’s Week 17 meltdown against the Baltimore Ravens.

It appears their respective ankle injuries are following a similar timetable, as both missed practice this week on Wednesday and Thursday and returned in a limited fashion on Friday. Accordingly, both are questionable to play against the Bills.

“We’ll make a determination that’s very tricky, but I wouldn’t close the door because they haven’t,” head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters before practice on Friday.

“We’ll see what today presents. It’s one of those things that you guys are used to, and so are we,” the head coach continued, referring to the rash of injuries and injury-related uncertainties that the Dolphins have faced this season.

Also questionable is linebacker Jerome Baker, who suffered a knee injury earlier this season that landed him on injured reserve. He’s been designated to return and, after being limited in Friday’s practice, also has a shot to play this week. To be eligible to suit up on Sunday Night Football, the Dolphins will have to officially activate him to the 53-man roster on Saturday.

Cornerback Xavien Howard, who suffered a non-season-ending foot injury against the Ravens, has been ruled out, but McDaniel has told reporters that Howard could return for the playoffs. Also ruled out on defense is pass rusher Bradley Chubb, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the waning minutes of last week’s loss.

Veteran backup Eli Apple is expected to fill in for Howard this week. “When ‘X’ [Xavien Howard] went out early last week, we went with Eli and Kader [Kohou] stayed at nickel. I think that’s the way we’ll move going forward,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio told reporters this week.

As for the team’s pass rush, expect to see more of Emmanuel Ogbah, who was a healthy inactive against the Ravens. “Ogbah has a huge role … He’s been productive all season, but it’s not just him. Really, it’s everybody,” McDaniel said about Ogbah’s status after Chubb’s injury.

Melvin Ingram, who was with the Dolphins in 2022 and was brought back by the team last month, should also be involved. “(Ogbah) is a good pass rusher for the most part. [Melvin Ingram] is a little more well rounded in the OLB position, the ability to drop and stuff like that,” Fangio said on Thursday about replacing Chubb.

Ingram is currently on the practice squad but can be elevated to play this week without taking up another 53-man roster spot.

The Dolphins managed to clear a litany of other players for Sunday, a welcome change of pace for the team, which has had lengthy lists of “questionable” designations heading into previous weeks.

Among those cleared include RB De’Von Achane (toe/ribs), OT Terron Armstead (knee/ankle/back), OT Austin Jackson (oblique), C Liam Eichenberg (calf/ankle), G Lester Cotton (hip), G Robert Hunt, WR Tyreek Hill (ankle), S Jevon Holland (knees), LB David Long Jr. (knee), LB Duke Riley (ankle), CB Jalen Ramsey (knee), DT Zach Sieler (illness), QB Tua Tagovailoa (left shoulder/quad), and QB Mike White (right shoulder).

Hunt’s return is particularly notable, as the ascending guard has missed several weeks with a hamstring injury that was nagging him for some time. With Hunt back in the lineup, the Dolphins will be fielding three of the team’s five original starters on the offensive line for the first time in what feels like forever.

With Hunt back, the team’s starting OL lineup on Sunday will likely be LT Armstead, LG Cotton, C Eichenberg, RG Hunt, and RT Jackson.

MORE: ‘Times Change’ – Miami Dolphins Eager To End Buffalo Bills’ Stranglehold of AFC East

For Buffalo, the only player whose status is uncertain is C Mitch Morse (illness), who missed practice on Friday and is listed as questionable.

Morse would be the first Bills OL starter to miss a game in 2023, as Buffalo has fielded all five starting offensive linemen in every game this season.

Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills Week 18 Injury Report

Miami Dolphins

Out

  • LB Bradley Chubb (knee)
  • CB Xavien Howard (foot)

Questionable

  • WR Jaylen Waddle (ankle)
  • RB Raheem Mostert (ankle/knee)
  • LB Jerome Baker (knee)

Buffalo Bills

Questionable

  • C Mitch Morse (illness)

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