Wide Receiver Injuries: Big Deal or No Big Deal?

The Miami Dolphins have been without three of their top wide receivers for practically all of training camp so far
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It was great news for the Miami Dolphins to see DeVante Parker back at practice Monday after he came off the Physically Unable to Perform list, though the fact he did very little during the two-hour session is an indication he's not back at full speed yet.

Parker, though, is health-wise physically ahead of two other Dolphins wide receivers, Will Fuller V and Preston Williams, who continue to be sidelined. Like Parker, Williams began camp on PUP and has yet to pass his physical, while Fuller has taken part in half of one practice.

So the question needs to be asked: Is it a big deal that the three of the team's most prominent wide receivers pretty much have done nothing in training camp through five practices?

Given how early it still is in camp, the reflex answer would be to say: of course not.

But the problem is that these are three players with an extensive injury history and — fair or unfair — that sense of "Here we go again" is there.

Just look at Parker. He's really talented, but he's been able to play all 16 games just once since arriving as a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

Same with Fuller. He joined the Dolphins as a free agent this offseason having never played more than 14 games since he made his NFL debut (also as a first-round pick) in 2016, although the five games he missed in 2020 was the result of an NFL suspension.

Williams, meanwhile, showed impressive ability in his first two seasons with the Dolphins after arriving as a rookie free agent in 2019, but both of those ended with severe injuries, the latter of which obviously is still an issue eight months later.

So the question at some point is going to need to be asked: How much should the Dolphins depend on those wide receivers for 2021?

The good news for the Dolphins is that the absence of the three wide receivers has given other players at the position the opportunity to shine, and that's just what Albert Wilson and Robert Foster, to name two, have been doing.

Foster has been so good, in fact, that it's going to be difficult not to keep him on the 53-man roster if it continues this kind of production in preseason games.

It's pretty well known that the Dolphins have a surplus of wide receivers and something is going to have to give in some areas and some good players are going to be left off the 53, with a trade certainly a possibility.

It's really hard to envision Parker and Fuller not being on the 53-man roster given their credentials, but one has to wonder if there will come a point when the Dolphins will decide that Williams is expendable. The possibility certainly exists that he could open the season on PUP, which would keep out of the lineup for the first six games before the Dolphins would have to make a decision on his status.

So, yeah, it's still very early in camp, so maybe we shouldn't be overreacting over the injuries to the three wide receivers. But it's also not right to say it's nothing at all.

MEANWHILE IN PHILADELPHIA

While on the topic of injuries, we obviously couldn't help but notice DeVonta Smith being out for a couple of weeks with a knee injury.

The Eagles say his injury is no cause for concern.

Except it is being, as we wrote here before the draft, injuries always will be a concern with Smith because of his frame. And it's why we advocated against the Dolphins taking him with the sixth overall pick.

Maybe this will be the last of it for Smith when it comes to injuries, but somehow it feels like it's just the beginning.