The Miami Dolphins secondary will face a difficult challenge Sunday going up against the Las Vegas Raiders and quarterback Derek Carr.
But Carr, who's off to an MVP-like start for the 2-0 Raiders, also sees a tough task ahead for himself and his teammates, particularly when it comes to Xavien Howard.
To say Carr has a lot of respect for the All-Pro cornerback would be putting it mildly.
“Xavien Howard, I don’t think he gets enough credit, if I’m honest," Carr told Raiders reporters Wednesday. "In the scheme that they run, especially last year, he had 10 interceptions. In that scheme, it’s ridiculous. The fact that he’s not talked as one of the No. 1 corners in the league up there with Jalen [Ramsey] and Stephon [Gilmore], and some go, ‘Oh yeah, he’s a good player.’ Especially you look at some Madden ratings. My nephews are always sending me this guy’s Madden rating,
"There is a healthy respect for Xavien and the kind of player he is. He knows. I’ve told him before I think the world of him, and I think he’s absolutely one of the very best in this league. Top tier, very top-tier, and always excited to compete against him."
This will be the fourth time that Carr and Howard have faced each other in the NFL. Howard has two picks against Carr, both coming in 2018 when the Dolphins won 28-20 at Hard Rock Stadium. The second pick came in the end zone in the fourth quarter when the Dolphins were leading 21-17.
One last thing on Howard, as pointed by Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports: He's the only player in the NFL this season with an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
OFFENSIVE LINE ROLL CALL
A tweet by CBS Sports HQ indicated that the Dolphins have used the most starting offensive linemen over the past 10 seasons with a total of 46.
So obviously that left us wondering, hmm, what does that list look like?
Well, here it is, the 46 players who have started on the Dolphins offensive line since the start of the 2011 season, beginning with the most recent and the position where they started in parentheses:
Liam Eichenberg (LT), Austin Jackson (LT), Solomon Kindley (RG/LG), Michael Deiter (C/LG), Robert Hunt (RG/RT), Jesse Davis (RT, LT, RG, LG), Ereck Flowers (LG), Ted Karras (C).
Julien Davenport (RT/LT), Ja'Marcus Webb (RT/LT), Keaton Sutherland (LG/RG), Daniel Kilgore (C), Evan Boehm (C/RG), Shaq Calhoun (RG), Danny Isidora (RG), Isaiah Prince (RT), Laremy Tunsil (LT/LG), Zach Sterup (LT), Ted Larsen (LG), Jake Brendel (LG/C), Josh Sitton (LG), Travis Swanson (C).
Ja'Wuan James (RT/LT), Sam Young (LT/RT), Anthony Steen (C/LG), Mike Pouncey (C/RG), Jermon Bushrod (RG), Branden Albert (LT), Billy Turner (LG/LT/RG), Kraig Urbik (C/LG), Dallas Thomas (RG/LG/RT), Jason Fox (RT/LT), Jamil Douglas (RG/C).
Daryn Colledge (LG), Shelley Smith (RG/LG), Samson Satele (C), Bryant McKinnie (LT), Jonathan Martin (RT/LT), Richie Incognito (LG), Sam Brenner (LG), Nate Garner (C/RT/LG), John Jerry (C/RG), Tyson Clabo (RT), Jake Long (LT), Vernon Carey (RG), Marc Colombo (RT).
HALL OF FAME NOMINEES
One name on the previous list was among the 122 former players unveiled Wednesday as the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame nominees.
That would be Jake Long, the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, who played for the Dolphins for five seasons and made the Pro Bowl each of his first four years.
Long finished out his NFL career with two years with St. Louis and one each with Atlanta and Minnesota, but injuries limited him to only 15 games his last three seasons.
And it's injuries that will keep Long, from this vantage point, from ever earning serious consideration for the Hall of Fame because his performance with the Dolphins was nothing short of outstanding. This was his first year of eligibility.
Other former Dolphins players among the nominees were WR Wes Welker, OT Richmond Webb, LB Zach Thomas and P Reggie Roby.
Thomas has been a finalist each of the past two years and figures to get in at some point, particularly when you compare his stats to those of Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher.
Roby was among the best punters of his generation, but it's not a position that gets a ton of Hall consideration; Webb was a tremendous tackle as Dan Marino's blindside protector but he's never been a Hall semifinalist in his 15 years of eligibility, so his outlook isn't promising; and Welker, who played three seasons with Miami but starred with the Patriots and Broncos, put up huge numbers but Hall of voters might decide those were more a product of being able to play with Tom Brady and then Peyton Manning.