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The Strange Case of Nik Needham

Miami Dolphins cornerback Nik Needham has gone through a roller coaster of a season so far, though it might be trending upward

Nik Needham's young NFL career has been one crazy roller coaster, but things might be looking up again.

The second-year Miami Dolphins cornerback has alternated between no playing time on defense to a lot of snaps, but head coach Brian Flores says the trend might soon change — in a good way for Needham.

"Again, it’s week to week, like we’ve talked about here several times before," Flores said. "Nik is a second-year player. He’s made a lot of strides. I think as we move forward, he’s improving and I would expect to see him out there a little bit more consistently, to be honest with you. I think he’s kind of earned that. But at the same time, he has to be productive when he gets out on the field. I know it’s kind of been up and down, but I think it’s game plan related. It will continue to be that way. I think he’s definitely making some improvement.”

By all accounts, Needham had a solid performance in his 44 snaps in the 31-23 loss against the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday. He did get called for illegal contact in the third quarter, but did not show up in the stat sheet otherwise.

That means on one hand he didn't make any big plays but he also wasn't beaten for a lot of passes, either.

For sure, it was a much better performance than what Needham put forth against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. He gave up six completions on seven targets that day and was flagged for two penalties.

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That led to Needham playing only on special teams against Jacksonville in Week 3 before he came back against Seattle.

The Dolphins pass defense has had its struggles early this season, but things should get better with the expected return of Byron Jones from his groin injury.

If Needham continues to improve, that's only going to help.

Of course, it's fair to wonder how Needham is going to get more playing time with the return of Jones, but maybe the Dolphins will cut down the playing time of rookie first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene, who clearly has had some issues.

Remember that Flores always talks about players earning their playing time.

That's how Needham went from a promising rookie free agent in camp last year to not making to initial 53-man roster to getting promoted from the practice squad and finally to starting 11 games.

It wasn't always smooth sailing for Needham, but it still was a good start. And so maybe the game against Seattle was another start of sorts for a player whose career already has had its share of stops and starts.