Miami Dolphins Week 7 Injury Report: Secondary Ailing With DBs Xavien Howard, Nik Needham Questionable

The Miami Dolphins have overcome a slew of injuries en route to a 5-1 record, but issues in the secondary could prove troubling against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Miami Dolphins are set to take on the defending NFC champions on a national stage come Sunday Night Football.

It’s pretty darn well-documented by now that Miami’s offense is prolific, if not downright historical. But the Philadelphia Eagles boast an impressive set of weapons in their own right in franchise QB Jalen Hurts, wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, tight end Dallas Goedert, and running back D’Andre Swift.

If Miami wants any chance of slowing down Philly’s attack, they’ll need all hands on deck on defense. And with Jalen Ramsey still a couple of weeks from returning and more injuries piling up in the defensive backfield, all hands on deck seems like a long shot heading into Week 7.

From the current NFL standings to team depth charts to coverage of every game in the 18-week NFL schedule, we have all the news from around the league to keep you up to speed!

Xavien Howard, Nik Needham Among Dolphins Defenders in Doubt for Sunday Night Football

The good news for Miami? Every one of the team’s players on the 53-man roster practiced on Friday.

The bad news? Several key Dolphins are still uncertain to play against the Eagles on Sunday night.

MORE: Miami Dolphins Depth Chart

All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard suffered a groin injury during the team’s Week 6 victory over the Carolina Panthers and is questionable for Week 7. Howard played through most of the 2022 season with a groin injury, which clearly hampered his play last year. He’s been the team’s only reliable cornerback through six weeks in 2023, and he would be a big loss if he’s unable to give it a go.

For what it’s worth, Howard said that he plans to play on Sunday.

2022 undrafted free agent signee Kader Kohou, who was a revelation for Miami last season, would likely see an increase in snaps on the boundary if Howard is unable to play. Kohou has performed much better when in the slot this season, but the team’s options will be limited if Howard is out.

“If ‘X’ (Xavien Howard) isn’t able to play, I know we got a lot of guys that will be able to step up,” the second-year cornerback told reporters on Wednesday. Kohou himself is battling a neck injury and has been limited in practice this week, but he said on Friday that his neck is feeling better and is without an injury designation for Sunday.

Elsewhere on the DB depth chart, Nik Needham has been limited all week as he works his way back from a torn Achilles suffered last season. Currently on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, Needham must be activated to the 53-man roster by next week, or he’ll have to sit for the remainder of the season.

While there’s little doubt he’ll be activated before then, the team has already announced he won’t play in Week 7.

Eli Apple, Parry Nickerson, Justin Bethel, Kelvin Joseph, and 2023 second-round pick Cam Smith are Miami’s next guys up in the defensive backfield. Smith performed well in the preseason and was expected by many to play a role on Miami’s defense this season, but he’s been largely absent from the cornerback rotation thus far.

Elsewhere on Miami’s injury report, starting center Connor Williams returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday with a groin injury but is questionable for Week 7. Williams explained that he reaggravated his groin against the New York Giants after initially injuring it in Miami’s 70-20 bashing of the Denver Broncos.

2021 second-round pick Liam Eichenberg started in Williams’ stead against the Panthers and acquitted himself well, allowing zero pressures in his 33 pass-blocking snaps. Of course, he’ll face a much tougher task if asked to start this week against a vaunted Philadelphia defensive line featuring the likes of Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis, Brandon Graham, and Jalen Carter.

miami dolphins injury report
Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg (74) talks with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) before the NFL game against the Carolina Panthers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Oct. 15, 2023.

“He did a great job under center with his snaps, in the [shotgun] with his snaps … I think he’s starting to feel comfortable with the position that he’s at now,” QB Tua Tagovailoa said about Eichenberg after Miami’s win over the Panthers. Eichenberg switched to center this season after spending his first two years rotating between offensive tackle and guard.

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Pass rusher Jaelan Phillips (oblique) has been a full participant in practice all week after playing a limited set of snaps against the Panthers, though defensive coordinator Vic Fangio referenced on Thursday that Phillips will likely still be in a rotational role as Miami’s budding edge rusher ramps all the way back to full health.

At running back, the Dolphins have activated veteran Jeff Wilson Jr. (ribs/finger) from injured reserve. He’ll fill in alongside Raheem Mostert and Salvon Ahmed, while undrafted rookie Chris Brooks (ankle) will himself be placed on IR.

Though Brooks’ ankle injury isn’t considered season-ending, it’s unclear whether he’ll return to the active roster this season, given that Miami will have to be choosy with which players receive the team’s eight allotted return designations from IR.

Ramsey, Wilson, and OL Robert Jones have already received three, while OT Terron Armstead (knee) and RB De’Von Achane (knee) are nearly certain to receive two of the remaining five.

Needham’s impending activation won’t count towards the eight because he’s on the physically unable to perform list, but wide receivers River Cracraft (shoulder) and Erik Ezukanma (neck) would count should they be activated following their respective recoveries.

Miami Dolphins at Philadelphia Eagles Week 7 Injury Report

Miami Dolphins

Questionable

  • CB Xavien Howard (groin)
  • FB Alec Ingold (foot)
  • C Connor Williams (groin)

Out

  • CB Jalen Ramsey (knee, IR)
  • CB Nik Needham (Achilles, PUP)

Philadelphia Eagles

Out

  • S Reed Blankenship (ribs)
  • CB Bradley Roby (shoulder)

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