The Miami Dolphins opened their 2021 training camp Tuesday and the biggest news of the day probably involved All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard showing up.
His presence was confirmed by the team's social media group in a series of videos showing player arrivals. Howard was shown being greeted by wide receiver Jakeem Grant.
That Howard would show up wasn't a given considering he skipped the mandatory June minicamp, although a training camp holdout comes with a $50,000-a-day fine that cannot be waived.
“I think we were all excited," Baker said of seeing Howard after the cornerback skipped the entire offseason program. "X is a key guy on our defense — not just a key guy on our defense but he’s a great guy to be around. We’re definitely happy to see him back. I think we’re all just happy to be around each other. Not just X but everybody. We’re just happy to be here. It’s a new facility. There is a lot of energy in the building. We’re all happy to see X back. We’re all happy just to be back.”
The issue of COVID-19 vaccinations is a hot topic around the NFL, with players around the league offering strong takes both for and against them.
We didn't get any of those from any of the four players who conducted media sessions Tuesday: Baker, running back Myles Gaskin, defensive tackle (and player rep) Christian Wilkins and guard/tackle Jesse Davis.
"Really I just try to get information pushed out," Wilkins said. "Just giving it my perspective and how I view it is different from hearing from a counterpart or a coach or whatever. I just try to help guys, try to give them information. As far as vaccines and everything, to each his own. It’s up to every guy about what they want to do and whether they want to do it or not. Nobody’s wrong, nobody’s right. It’s all up to you.”
Head coach Brian Flores declined to provide information on what percentage of his players have gotten vaccinated, though he himself has done so.
“My message to all of the players is the same," Flores said. "Let’s follow the protocols and do everything we can to allow ourselves the opportunity to meet, walkthrough, practice and string good days together.”
Along with players reporting, the big order of business on the first day of training camp is the conditioning test.
It's a determining factor in whether a player will begin camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which will keep somebody from practicing.
Before the test, Flores said that wide receiver Preston Williams would be placed on PUP, though that didn't happen until the NFL put out its daily transactions list.
Williams was a very limited participant in the offseason program as he continues to work his way back from the foot injury he sustained in the Week 9 victory at Arizona last November.
Another player who finished the offseason program as an injury question mark was linebacker Elandon Roberts, who is coming back from what initially appeared to be a severe knee injury in the wild victory at Las Vegas last November.
You can expect the announcement for Dolphins PUP players to come before they hit the practice field Wednesday morning.
THEY SAID IT
• Wilkins on how he spent his offseason: “Just training. Working hard. Working on my game. I was able to train with a good group of guys from around the league. We had about eight of us. We all went away and just locked in, were able to train, get away from everybody and take care of business.”
• Gaskin on the speedy new wide receivers and how they could open up space for the running game: "Like I’ve said in the past, those guys are just fun to watch, just to watch them take off. I was a track guy when I was younger and I used to think I was fast but seeing those guys really take off, it’s fun to watch. Like I’ve said in the past, I’m excited for that. Yeah, it definitely could open the box but I’m just excited for football now.”
• Baker on personal goals: “I don’t really have anything as far as individual goals, how many sacks or how many tackles. I kind of take it as I just want to get better than I was year. I want to be a better player, a better person, a better everything. That’s kind of what I go into every year. I’m definitely excited. This is my fourth year so I’m excited.”
• Davis on how his versatility is good for keeping a roster spot but maybe not so good to land a starting job: “I try not to think that way. I try to look at it as a way of I can play anywhere they want me to. I try to make it competitive for everybody in every position, so I want to kind of light a fire under everybody. I want a starting spot, that’s for sure. But I’ll play any position the organization wants me in.”
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @PoupartNFL. Feel free to submit questions every Friday for the All Dolphins mailbag.