Christian Wilkins is back from his stint on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and the Miami Dolphins defensive tackle is still the some exuberant, high-energy guy he's always been.
There are some things that have changed, though, because Wilkins says he took the time off to pick up a couple of new hobbies and developed a new outlook on life.
"I was just getting a little antsy because I just wanted to be back out there with my guys and missing some ball is not something I’m used to," Wilkins said Friday during a Zoom media session. "But I was able to just shift my mind-set a little bit. Think a lot about just life and just more about football and just how blessed I am to play this game. Just took time to do that. Took time to pick up a few more little extra hobbies just to keep me busy in my free time."
Wilkins, however, wasn't ready to share Friday what those new hobbies were.
"Just stay tuned because when I share it with the world, I’m sure you’ll ... I’ve got to perfect my craft, but when I share it with the world, that’s when you guys will all see it," Wilkins said. "I’ll keep that kind of to myself for a little bit. But it’s good. It’s a good hobby, a way to challenge my mind."
Wilkins was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list days before the Dolphins were set to face the Los Angeles Chargers at Hard Rock Stadium.
In his last game, he jumped on top of wide receiver Preston Williams to celebrate Williams' touchdown, the way he had done so many times before with others.
But Williams left the game after his touchdown with a foot injury that landed him on injured reserve, with some speculating that Wilkins had something to do with the injury — though it's never been confirmed and video shows both that Williams' foot was twisted by an Arizona defender as he dove into the end zone and that Wilkins didn't seem to put a lot of weight on Williams' shoulder as he jumped on top of him.
Earlier in the year, Wilkins had jumped over a standing Brandon Jones to celebrate another play, so a fair to question is to ask whether maybe Wilkins needs to temper his celebrations and eliminate high-risk maneuvers.
"I’m still going to bring the same energy each and every day I’m on the field," Wilkins said. "Play with the same excitement. Play with the same joy, get excited for my teammates because I love this game.
"Maybe I could be a little smarter about it. It’s just a speculation. I don’t know. But I’m going to be probably even more energetic because I’ve got to make up for two weeks of energy and excitement. We’ll see how it goes."
Wilkins' energy no doubt is something the Dolphins missed in the two games they played without him, and maybe he could have helped the porous run defense in the 20-13 loss at Denver last Sunday when Miami allowed 189 rushing yards.
In any regard, the Dolphins are glad to have him back.
"Look, he’s full of energy," head coach Brian Flores said. "He’s gonna brings us juice and energy every day. So we’re excited to have him back. Everyone is excited to have him back. Always good to have guys back in the lineup.”
Wilkins was one of three Dolphins players who were removed from the COVID-19 list this week along with practice squad wide receiver Matt Cole and guard/tackle Jesse Davis, who was put on it just Monday and taken off three days later.
The Dolphins now have zero players on the list.
"The only symptom I got is lack of football-itis," Wilkins said. "That was tough, missing two games. I never had to miss a game for anything in my football career. So that was unfortunate for me. But now I’m more excited to be back than ever. Just happy to be back with the guys."