The situation involving Miami Dolphins All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard hasn't changed much over the past few days, though it continues to feature a lot of mystery.
For example, there's Howard's mysterious ankle injury, which has limited his participation in practice since the start of training camp.
Then there were the comments by head coach Brian Flores on Monday morning when I asked for an update on the status of Howard's injury and his contract situation.
Here was Flores' response:
"(There was) a little setback on the ankle, so we’re going to hold him out today. As far as the contract, we’re continuing to have dialogue with ‘X’ about that. Just take it one day at a time from that standpoint, but I do think we’re moving in the right direction.”
On the surface, that obviously seems like a wildly encouraging sign toward a resolution of the impasse that has been simmering all year and reached a boiling point last Tuesday night when Howard put up on post on Instagram in which he requested a trade.
Of course, the question begs to be asked: In what direction are the contract talks going?
Are the Dolphins moving closer to granting Howard's wish to have his contract, signed as an extension in May 2019, adjusted either through guarantees or future money moved to the present?
Or are the Dolphins getting closer to getting Howard to be fully on board with playing on his current contract this year, perhaps with incentives tied to his 2021 performance?
Howard's new agent, David Canter, has declined comment on the situation, so there's no way of knowing whether he and his client would agree with the assessment that things are "moving in the right direction."
It sure was a good sign Saturday when Howard said he was hoping things would work out in Miami, but Howard also said that day regarding his situation that "nothing is getting done right now."
So did things change between Saturday and Monday morning?
Regarding his contract?
Regarding his injury?
Given Howard's trade request, it's impossible to look at that injury without a degree of skepticism.
Even the way it surfaced was — how shall we put this? — interesting given that he took to the field Thursday, went through the stretching and warmup period, and then suddenly jogged directly across both practice fields and into the Baptist Health Training Complex.
He didn't practice again until his brief appearance Saturday, so exactly how he got hurt or aggravated the injury is anybody's guess.
Howard has been attending practice even when not participating and he was out there Monday on the sideline.
And the fans at Hard Rock Stadium certainly noticed him with a couple of chants, the loudest and most easily discernible consisting of, "We love Howard! We love Howard!"
There's a good reason Dolphins fans love Howard, and that's because he's really good. And it's clear the Dolphins are a better team with him than without him, which is why trading Howard would be a painful resolution to the problem.
And that's why Dolphins fans are hoping that things truly are "moving in the right direction."