Miami Dolphins Week 9 Injury Report: Offensive Line Up in the Air, Xavien Howard and Nik Needham Hoping To Return

The Miami Dolphins are hoping to get several key starters back into the lineup for a star-studded international showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Miami Dolphins are facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs in an international Week 9 bout that could go a long way toward deciding who gets the top billing in the AFC playoff picture come January.

Taking on Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and Co. in Germany, Miami has several key starting roster spots up in the air due to injury, though the ‘Phins are also hoping to get back substantial reinforcements in the form of CB Xavien Howard, OT Terron Armstead, and C Connor Williams.

Miami Dolphins Hoping To Get Star Players Back in the Lineup for Week 9

The Dolphins were missing a bevy of key starters in a win against the New England Patriots last week and lost several more during the action. Howard (groin), Armstead (knee), stud safety Jevon Holland (concussion), and left guard Isaiah Wynn (ankle, IR) were all inactive for the contest, while Williams (groin) was active only in an emergency capacity and didn’t play.

During the game, Miami lost right guard Robert Hunt (hamstring) and safety Brandon Jones (concussion). By the end of the contest, right tackle Austin Jackson was the only starter left standing along the offensive line.

This week, the team is hopeful that three starters will play on the OL: Armstead, Williams, and Jackson, though the latter is the only one that’s a guarantee at this point. Armstead and Williams are both officially listed as questionable, and both were limited in all three of Miami’s practices.

Armstead has missed each of the last four games on injured reserve with a knee issue, while Williams has been out since suffering a setback with his groin injury in the team’s Week 5 victory over the New York Giants.

Regarding Armstead, Miami is trying to find a balance between ensuring he’s good to go for what fans and the team are justifiably hoping could be a deep playoff run and having him play in a crucial AFC matchup.

“It’s been so far so good. We still have a day to assess that, and we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves,” head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters on Friday.

“It’s been very encouraging, and [we] feel optimistic, but [we] have to just see how today plays out to make sure that there are no setbacks because we feel very good about all the offensive linemen we play. There’s a long season, so there’s no reason for him to be pressing through something that might hurt him in the long run.”

MORE: Miami Dolphins Depth Chart | Kansas City Chiefs Depth Chart

McDaniel was similarly optimistic without going so far as to guarantee anything with Williams. “Connor Williams has had an outstanding week of practice. It ended up being very fortuitous that Liam Eichenberg played really well last week and afforded him another week of get-right. He hasn’t had any setbacks, so [we] feel good about that.”

Williams himself was clear that he wanted to play but acknowledged that the final decision was with the training staff. “I think at the end of the day, that’s going to be up to them. But it’s been a good week, and I feel healthy, so we’ll see how it rolls … I’ll always say I’m ready.”

Hunt has been ruled out with his hamstring injury after being unable to practice all week, as has Jones, who didn’t travel with the team to Germany.

If Miami gets both Williams and Armstead back in the lineup, the team’s starting OL for Sunday is expected to be the following: LT Terron Armstead; LG Robert Jones; C Connor Williams; RG Lester Cotton; RT Austin Jackson.

Also listed as questionable for the Dolphins are WR/KR Braxton Berrios (hamstring) and CB Justin Bethel (foot), each of whom suffered mid-week injuries during Thursday’s practice and were limited on Friday.

WR River Cracraft (shoulder) and DB Nik Needham (Achilles) are on their way back from injured reserve and the physically unable to perform list, respectively, and are expected to be ready soon. Both have been designated to return.

Needham’s return will be especially important for a secondary that can’t quite seem to get fully healthy at any time this season. Though, for the first time all year, there’s a chance the entire starting lineup is active.

Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey returned last week from a knee injury suffered in training camp to take the field in aqua and orange for the first time, and he delivered a storybook performance, nabbing a critical interception on QB Mac Jones.

Howard was pretty emphatic that he’s ready to return from his groin injury. “I feel great right now, ready to play this weekend. Dealt with a little issue with the groin, but the team took care of me, so I’m ready to play now,” the All-Pro corner told reporters on Wednesday.

To be fair, Howard was similarly confident that he’d play last week before the training staff ultimately held him out. McDaniel explained the team’s reasoning for keeping Howard inactive last week, saying, “It was hard enough to hold him out … very much had to look at the big picture and what a setback or nagging issue would do to this team and what we’re trying to do.”

McDaniel acknowledged how much Howard’s return would mean to the defense, wryly telling a room of both American and German media reporters, “Well, you could say he would be a factor, an X-factor.”

Holland has been cleared from concussion protocol and will play on Sunday.

Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs Week 9 Injury Report

Miami Dolphins

Out

  • G Robert Hunt (hamstring)
  • S Brandon Jones (concussion)

Questionable

  • OT Terron Armstead (knee)
  • C Connor Williams (groin)
  • WR Braxton Berrios (hamstring)
  • WR River Cracraft (shoulder)
  • CB Justin Bethel (foot)
  • CB Xavien Howard (groin)
  • CB Nik Needham (Achilles)
  • TE Durham Smythe (ankle)

MORE: Miami Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill on Facing Chiefs in Germany

Kansas City Chiefs

Out

  • RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (illness)

Questionable

  • LB Willie Gay Jr. (lower back)
  • WR Richie James (knee)

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles