Xavien Howard and DeVante Parker clearly are two of the most talented players on the Miami Dolphins roster, if not the top two.
So if the team is to have success in 2020, it figures that Howard and Parker would have to play major roles, which makes it a bit troublesome that both have had to deal with injury issues this training camp.
Howard, of course, is working his way back into shape after spending most of training camp on PUP along with a stint on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Howard was activated off both lists Friday, and then he took part in his first practice that day.
Though he was limited to individual drills on his first day, Howard got some snaps in the scrimmage Saturday.
At this point, it would seem that Howard clearly is on track to be ready for the start of the regular season Sept. 13 when the Dolphins will face the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, though Flores left some wiggle room during his media session Monday morning.
"(He’s) conditioning," Flores said. "Just those fundamentals — those techniques, the footwork, the hand placement — that everyone takes for granted that people think just happens, he needs to work on those and he has been. He needs to work on those techniques, work against the receivers, work with his teammates on communication. I think a lot of people just kind of take those things for granted. I know he doesn’t.
"I know he’s working diligently to get in and get those reps. He’s anxious to get in there because he knows he needs them. I think he’ll work towards getting to where he needs to be. Look, if we feel like he’s ready to go Week 1, then we’ll let him go. If we feel like he’s not, then we’ll make the decision when we get to that point."
Again, while Flores is right to exercise caution and not make unnecessary declarations about Howard's status, it's hard to envision him not being ready to go against New England.
As for Parker, he's been out of practice since the middle of last week because of an undisclosed injury. Flores said Monday that Parker is working his way back.
"He’s working every day to get back out there as soon as he can again," Flores said. "He’s been through some of this training camp and some of the conditioning and some of the fundamentals and techniques. When you’re out a couple of days, you just don’t want to lose those — if you don’t practice them, you start to lose them a little bit. But he’s built up enough — or I feel like he’s built up a good amount — so that hopefully he can kind of get right back to it. He’ll lose a little bit, but then he can get right back to where he was and continue to improve and elevate. Hopefully elevate.”
Parker, of course, is coming off a career year with 1,202 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, both AFC highs for wide receivers. He did it playing 16 games for the first time in his NFL career, which is why any injury that sidelines him can be considered worrisome.
Howard, meanwhile, is looking to bounce back from a disappointing season where he struggled and played only five games before landing on injured reserve with a knee injury that necessitated surgery in early December and that's what led to him starting training camp on PUP this summer.
Howard is a key for the Dolphins secondary, just like Parker is a key for the passing game. It's why you will see the Dolphins be very cautious with both of them before Sept. 13.