Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday for his game last Thursday in the 22-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens that was anchored by the Dolphins defense.
Howard forced a fumble, recovered it and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown in the meaningful second-half score of the upset victory over the AFC North-leading Ravens. He was the only AFC defensive player to score a touchdown in Week 10 and also had five tackles against Baltimore.
“X is clearly a big part of this team, from a leadership standpoint,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said Wednesday. “As far as his play, I think he’s played well.
“We famous his Player of the Week in a meeting this morning, announced that this morning, gave him a round of applause, and next thing we said was, ‘Let’s get ready for the Jets.’ ”
This is Howard’s third Defensive Player of the Week honor. He also won it in Week 14 of 2017 and Week 13 of 2018. He is the first Dolphin to earn a weekly award this season.
The last Dolphins player to win three AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors was defensive end Cameron Wake in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Howard joins former cornerback Sam Madison as the only Miami defensive back to win it three times. The last Dolphin overall to be named AFC Defensive Player of the Week was outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy in Week 12 of 2020.
In nine games this season, Howard has 30 tackles, two interceptions, two fumbles forced and recovered and 10 pass deflections. He is coming off a 2020 campaign where he was an All-Pro and Defensive Player of the Year candidate, leading the NFL with 10 interceptions.
Dolphins defensive lineman Christian Wilkins was not seen during the media viewing portion of Miami’s Wednesday practice.
Any possible injury for Wilkins is unknown and expected to be addressed on the team’s injury report, which will be released late Wednesday afternoon.
His absence could have something to do with why the Dolphins additional experienced NFL starter Andrew Billings to the practice squad, as the team officially announced on Tuesday.
“Big body, tough,” Flores said. “Liked some things on tape. Feel like he could help us, so we’re excited to work with him.”
From 2017 to 2019, Billings played in 47 games, starting 37 for the Cincinnati Bengals. He made 80 tackles, 14 for loss, and had 3 1/2 sacks in that span. After opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, he barely saw the field for the Cleveland Browns this season before being waived.
Defensive back Elijah Campbell was also not seen at Wednesday’s session. Safety Brandon Jones returned after he wasn’t seen in Monday drills coming off the weekend off following the Thursday night game.
Flacco for Jets
The New York Jets (2-7) are starting quarterback Joe Flacco against the Dolphins (3-7), coach Robert Saleh said in a Wednesday press conference.
Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson is nevertheless not 100 percent from his PCL knee injury he suffered in an Oct. 24 loss at the New England Patriots. Former University School High standout Mike White started the games since the injury, briefly became a phenom for his 405-yard passing performance in an upset victory over the Bengals and then had a four-interception game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Flacco, 36, a 13-year veteran and one-time Super Bowl champion with the Ravens, has played in one game in 2021, completing all three of his passes.
“He’s been a good player in this league for a long time,” Flores said. “Smart, experienced. He’s going to try to get he ball to their go-to guys, and it’ll be a challenge for us.”
After the Dolphins placed tackle Greg Little on injured save on Tuesday, Flores said Wednesday the undisclosed injury occurred in practice.
Little had been a healthy idle for all 10 Dolphins games consequently far, so it shouldn’t alter game-day plans in backing up left tackle Liam Eichenberg, right tackle Jesse Davis or left guard Austin Jackson, who was moved there from left tackle.
“He’s been idle, so we’ve had a backup tackle all year,” Flores said. “We’ll just move forward the way we’ve been moving forward.”
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