Dolphins’ Jaelan Phillips Aiming To Return In Week 1?

The Dolphins’ defense was severely shorthanded to close out the 2023 season, and the unit was without edge rusher Jaelan Phillips after Miami’s Black Friday contest. He could be back in the fold by the start of the coming campaign, however.

While appearing at a University of Miami spring game on Saturday, Phillips said, “I’ll definitely be back healthy for the season” (h/t Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald). That declaration may not mean he will be available for Week 1 in 2024, but an early return to the field would represent a massive boost to the Dolphins’ edge contingent. Phillips is rehabbing the Achilles tear which brought an end to his third NFL season.

That injury comes with a particularly long recovery timeline, though players in recent years have been succesful in cutting down on the time needed to rehab effectively. Taking the field in Week 1 in Phillips’ case would represent roughly 10 months from the time of his injury, the first of his tenure with the Dolphins. Of course, the former first-rounder’s college career was marred by a number of ailments, so his ability to return to full health will be a key storyline to follow over the coming months.

If Phillips can indeed suit up for the start of the 2024 season, Miami will have an impact starter available along the edge. The 24-year-old racked up 6.5 sacks in eight contests last campaign, putting him on track to eclipse his career high in that regard (8.5). Expectations will be high for him whenever he is able to take the field, especially given the uncertainty the team has at the outside linebacker spot for the time being.

Bradley Chubb is rehabbing an ACL tear suffered in December, and the Dolphins’ only move in free agency along the edge has been the addition of Shaquil Barrett. While Chubb is on track to play at some point in 2024, Barry reports Cameron Goode is “very much in question” to be in the lineup early in the campaign. For that reason, Barry adds Miami should be expected to add one or two rookies during or after the upcoming draft.

The Dolphins own six selections this year, though only two of them fall within the first four rounds. Drafting one of the top edge rush options on the board would thus come as little surprise, although in any event a healthy Phillips would help Miami’s front seven as it transitions under new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver.

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