Preston Williams

Dolphins Promote WR Antonio Callaway

Antonio Callaway is getting another shot. In the wake of Preston Williamstrip to IR, the Dolphins are promoting Callaway to their active roster for today’s game against the Chargers, as Adam H. Beasley and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald write.

The ‘Fins signed Callaway to the practice squad in September, even though he still had three games of last season’s 10-game suspension to serve. Shortly thereafter, he was hit with another four-game ban, so he continued to sit on the club’s practice squad suspended list.

Miami’s WR depth was already thin to begin with after Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns opted out of the season, and Williams’ injury has further depleted the club’s cadre of pass catchers. So Callaway, who has a ton of talent but who has struggled with substance abuse issues, will have a prime opportunity to reestablish himself.

He also finds himself in the middle of a playoff race. The 5-3 Dolphins are one of this year’s biggest surprises, and Miami suddenly looks like a postseason contender. The team is hopeful that Callaway, who posted a 43/586/5 line in his rookie season with the Browns in 2018, will provide rookie signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa with a reliable option to complement DeVante Parker.

Unfortunately, Beasley and Jackson report that Williams is likely to miss the remainder of the season with a foot injury, which could lead to an extended audition for Callaway. But the Florida product and Miami native can’t get complacent, as the Dolphins are also working out Ricardo Louis and Andre Patton. Callaway, of course, has much more upside than either player if he stay out of trouble.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/11/20

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: DL Tyrone Crawford
  • Claimed off waivers from Colts: DL Ron’Dell Carter

Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Dolphins Place Preston Williams On IR

The Dolphins placed wide receiver Preston Williams on injured reserve with a foot injury. Previously, the Dolphins had Williams listed as day-to-day, but the issue is “more significant” than they initially believed, head coach Brian Flores says (Twitter link via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald). 

Per this year’s modified IR rules, Williams will miss at least three games. Flores isn’t exactly sure when they’ll get the second-year pro back after his left foot twisted on a touchdown catch against the Cardinals. It’s also possible that Williams is dealing with a right foot injury suffered during the ensuing celebration with Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.

Williams broke out during his rookie season last year, catching 32 passes for 428 yards and three touchdowns in his first eight NFL games. He was on pace to become just the second first Dolphins rookie wideout to surpass 800 yards since Chris Chambers in 2001. That was up until he suffered a torn ACL, capping his first pro season in November. So far this year, Williams has registered 18 catches for 288 yards and four touchdowns.

Without Williams, the Dolphins will likely lean more on Mack Hollins and Jakeem Grant. They could also promote Antonio Callaway from the practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Newton, Bills

With the Dolphins for just 18 games, Minkah Fitzpatrick elaborated on the difference of opinion he had with his second NFL head coach. Brian Flores, per Fitzpatrick, preferred he play a hybrid strong safety/linebacker role and only tried him as a deep safety in one practice last summer. This only came after Fitzpatrick asked Flores to see more time in coverage, Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report notes. After the Dolphins’ Week 1 blowout loss to the Ravens, in which Fitzpatrick was used more in coverage — albeit after limited practice time as a deep safety in Flores’ scheme — the 2018 first-round pick asked for a trade. Flores, Dunne adds, attempted to convince Fitzpatrick he was a key part of Miami’s future. That did not end up working. The Dolphins traded Fitzpatrick to the Steelers, with whom he became an All-Pro, for a first-round pick that turned into tackle Austin Jackson.

We had a difference of opinion in my skill set and what he thought I could do and what I thought I could do,” Fitzpatrick said, via Dunne. “It was going to get tough for me to show something to somebody they were choosing not to see. They didn’t give me the opportunity to show it, even though I had film that showed it. The losing and all that stuff? If I was put in the right position and we’re losing — because of decisions people made upstairs — it is what it is. I can only control how I play. That didn’t affect me at all. It was just a fact that I was being used the wrong way.”

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Shoulder and foot injuries helped lead Cam Newton out of Charlotte after nine seasons. But the former MVP quarterback said he is “full go” as he begins practices with the Patriots, Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston notes. Newton, 31, sounded more cautiously optimistic about staying fully healthy, Perry writes, after being injured for much of the past three seasons. But going into the padded portion of New England’s training camp, Tom Brady‘s likely successor said he feels “amazing.”
  • Since Dolphins players reported to camp, Xavien Howard has landed on both the active/PUP list and the reserve/COVID-19 list. Howard underwent knee surgery in December. While Howard was running at the team’s facility this summer, per ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe, he does not figure to see much practice time before Week 1. This makes the standout corner’s availability for the Dolphins’ opener against the Patriots uncertain.
  • Another Dolphin uncertain for Week 1: Preston Williams. The Dolphins are easing their UDFA success story back into action after his ACL tear, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes, adding that Williams’ Week 1 status is in doubt. Williams went down in Week 8 last season, ending a strong start to his career. He caught 32 passes for 428 yards. With Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns opting out, Williams will be critical to Miami’s passing attack.
  • Formerly a key Bills wide receiver, Robert Foster now appears on the verge of being cut or traded. The third-year Bills wideout will need a strong camp to make the team, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Buffalo drafted Gabriel Davis in Round 4, and the rookie will join the recently re-signed Isaiah McKenzie as a backup to the team’s Stefon DiggsJohn BrownCole Beasley starter trio. After Foster averaged 20 yards per catch as a rookie — in a 27-reception, 541-yard, three-TD season — he caught just three passes in 13 games last season.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Tua, Fitz, Jets

Ryan Fitzpatrick is “really excited” to have Tua Tagovailoa in the Dolphins‘ locker room, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. He gushed about the Alabama product in a chat with former Bills teammate Eric Woods, though he’s not quite ready to pass the torch as the team’s starting quarterback.

I also want to be out there playing,” Fitzpatrick said. “I also want to be on the field. And that’s why I’m still doing it, because I still enjoy playing the gameHopefully some of the lessons I’m able to teach him are from him watching me play. But if it’s the other way around, I’m going to do my best to help him succeed in the best way he can.”

Ultimately, the Dolphins will do what’s best for business, but Fitzpatrick may have a leg up on the rookie, thanks to his relationship with new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Chan and I have worked together for three years … He’s the guy who has given me the longest leash in my career in terms of being able to do things,” Fitzpatrick said. “And I trust him completely, and he has ultimate trust in me as well. This will be a little bit different in that if I’m out there playing there’s going to be a little bit longer leash because of the history we have together.”

Here’s more from the AFC East:

Dolphins’ Preston Williams Out For Season

Preston Williams‘ promising rookie season will end at the midway point. The rookie wide receiver left Sunday’s game early, and Brian Flores confirmed Monday he will not return in 2019. Williams suffered a torn ACL, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com tweets.

The UDFA played well in Miami’s win, hauling in two touchdown passes during a five-reception, 72-yard day. But the Colorado State product left the game with a knee issue, one that will delay his opportunity to build on this early-season success. Williams will likely miss all Dolphins on-field work until training camp.

Emerging quickly for the rebuilding team, Williams caught 32 passes for 428 yards and three touchdowns in his first eight NFL games. He was on pace to become just the second first Dolphins rookie wideout to surpass 800 yards since Chris Chambers in 2001. Williams impressed this offseason and was given a prominent role. Unlike many other starters on this overmatched team, he stands to return in 2020.

Both Williams and rookie Mike Gesicki played well on Sunday, with the latter finishing with a team-high 95 receiving yards. Gesicki and DeVante Parker remain in key positions for the 1-7 team, with Albert Wilson also back from an early-season injury.

Injury Updates: Brissett, Conner, Thielen

The Colts have been having a surprisingly strong season after Andrew Luck retired, but everyone in Indy was left holding their breath when Jacoby Brissett went down with a knee injury. After the game, head coach Frank Reich said it was a sprain that was “MCL-ish.” Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like Brissett tore anything. Quarterbacks can usually play through MCL sprains, so it doesn’t sound like Brissett will be on the shelf too long. Brian Hoyer filled in and had the Colts in position to win the game late, but Adam Vinatieri missed a 43-yard kick with a minute to go.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • Steelers rookie running back Benny Snell had surgery to trim his meniscus recently and will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Snell was a fourth-round pick back in April. Speaking of Pittsburgh’s backfield, starter James Conner didn’t suit up against the Colts today, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that he’s in danger of missing next week’s game against the Rams. For now, Jaylen Samuels will continue to gobble up most of the snaps.
  • Standout rookie UDFA Preston Williams suffered a knee injury, casting a damper on the Dolphins’ first win of the season. Despite going undrafted Williams has become a key player for Miami, starting all of their games thus far. The injury is a “sprained knee and the hope is that it’s not more serious,” tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. We should know more about the severity soon. Williams had five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Jets before going down.
  • Vikings receiver Adam Thielen returned after a one-game absence due to a hamstring injury, and quickly re-aggravated it. He didn’t return to Minnesota’s loss to Kansas City, and while there’s no word yet on the severity, hamstring issues can linger. They’ll likely be more cautious about rushing their star receiver back this time.

AFC East Notes: Brady, Bills, Dolphins

More information continues to trickle out about Tom Brady‘s contract. The Patriots initially offered Brady another batch of incentives to start this process, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston reports (video link). Given that Brady did not capitalize on any of his 2018 incentives, it was understandable his camp balked at such a proposal. The 20th-year quarterback did not mind a year-to-year setup, and Curran adds the clause preventing the Pats from franchising him next year came about because Brady wanted autonomy for the first time. He has never played into a contract year; he will now.

Through the void years tactic, the Patriots will be tagged with just north of $13MM in dead money if Brady were to leave after 2019, Curran adds (on Twitter). In structuring the deal this way, the Patriots gained $5.5MM in cap space and the opportunity to evaluate Brady’s age-42 season without making a true commitment beyond 2019.

With news surrounding the highest-profile player in the history of the AFC East overshadowing the others, let’s look at what else is coming out of this division on Tuesday evening:

  • The Bills are still deciding between playing second-round pick Cody Ford at tackle or guard, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The bulk of Buffalo’s offensive line depth resides on the interior, with Russell Bodine, Jon Feliciano and Wyatt Teller (seven starts as a 2018 rookie) on the roster. Ford moving inside could complicate their statuses, but Mitch Morse dealing with another concussion may make the Bills opt for extra insurance on their interior. Feliciano and Teller are likely to be on the 53-man roster, per Buscaglia. Ford started a handful of games at guard in 2016 and ’17, before moving to right tackle last season.
  • T.J. Yeldon joins some of the Bills’ veteran reserve linemen on the roster bubble. The four-year Jaguar is battling special-teamer Senorise Perry for the final running back job, Buscaglia writes, adding that Yeldon appears to be losing this competition. The Bills signed Yeldon to a two-year, $3.2MM deal with $500K guaranteed. The latter figure does not exactly ensure a roster spot. But Yeldon could benefit if the Bills try to trade LeSean McCoy, which has been rumored this summer.
  • Reshad Jones has been spotted in a walking boot and a cast on his right foot, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. He has missed multiple Dolphins practices. The well-paid safety has been a trade candidate for a bit now, and moving a $17.1MM cap figure off the roster would be in line with the rebuilding team’s offseason decisions. Additionally, Jones has been working with Miami’s second-string defense, with Jackson adding that Bobby McCain and T.J. McDonald have seen the bulk of the starter reps in camp. The Dolphins may have a difficult time unloading Jones’ $12MM-AAV contract.
  • A UDFA wideout has caught Xavien Howard‘s attention. The Dolphins’ No. 1 corner tabbed rookie Preston Williams as a potential “No. 1 receiver one day,” per Jackson. A 6-foot-5 receiver out of Colorado State, Williams made an impression in minicamp and has continued to do so in pads. Albert Wilson, Kenny Stills, Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker are roster locks, Jackson adds, with Williams likely competing with Allen Hurns and Brice Butler for one of the final two slots in a likely six-man receiving corps.

East Notes: Jets, Bills, Eagles, Dolphins

The Jets inked former Broncos starter Trevor Siemian to a one-year, $2MM this offseason with the plan to use him as a backup to quarterback Sam Darnold. But as Connor Hughes of The Athletic writes, fellow signal-caller Davis Webb was more impressive during the spring. Webb, a Giants 2017 third-round pick that the Jets claimed off waivers last year, doesn’t have any NFL experience under his belt, while Siemian has started 24 pro games. Gang Green could potentially release Siemian, but they’d be saddled with $1MM in dead money. An alternative, per Hughes, could involve trading Webb for a mid-round pick, although it’s unclear if another club would sacrifice any real draft capital in exchange for an unproven quarterback.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • The Bills have added a number of running backs to complement LeSean McCoy, and the veteran was especially pleased about Buffalo’s signing of Frank Gore, per Nate Mendelson of BuffaloBills.com. “I actually was begging him to come,” McCoy said. “Two years ago we were trying to get Frank and coach (Sean McDermott) asked if I’d like to play with him and I said ‘yeah.’” Buffalo signed not only Gore, but fellow free agent T.J. Yeldon, and selected Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary in the third round. Still, the team has been adamant that McCoy remains the starter, although that’s only invited more speculation that he could be traded at some point before the regular season begins.
  • Derek Barnett missed the final 10 games of the 2018 campaign after undergoing shoulder surgery, but the Eagles are still excited about the former first-round defensive end as he enters his third NFL season, according to Dave Spadaro of PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “I’d say every time he’s on the field, he’s rewarding our investment in him,” general manager Howie Roseman said. “We have a lot of confidence in him as a player and he’s a huge part of our football team. He’s shown that this isn’t a guy that’s going into his third year and we haven’t seen what he’s done. We’ve seen what he’s done in big games. We saw what he was doing last year before he got hurt. We expect him to come in and be a huge part of our team.” Now entering his age-23 campaign, Barnett has posted 7.5 sacks and 49 pressures over two years in Philadelphia.
  • Undrafted receiver Preston Williams made a name for himself during the Dolphins‘ offseason program, writes Barry Jackson the Miami Herald. Williams was especially valuable in red zone drills, per Jackson, who also notes Williams is now working with longtime NFL pass-catcher Brandon Marshall (thanks to a connection through now-Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick). Williams, who posted 96 receptions for 1,345 and 14 touchdowns during his final year at Colorado State, is behind DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, and others on the Dolphins’ receiver depth chart.

Dolphins Sign 18 UDFAs

We’ll wrap up the 2019 undrated free agent process with the Dolphins, who have announced the signing of the following 18 UDFAs:

Most evaluators pegged Miami’s six-draft class as mediocre, but the Dolphins may have hit it out of the park with their undrafted free agents, as Thor Nystrom of Rotoworld ranked the Dolphins’ UDFAs as the second-best crop in the NFL (behind only the Saints). Calhoun is particularly interesting, as the poor state of Miami’s interior offensive line could give him a real chance at a roster spot. Williams, who was barred from testing at the scouting combine due to a 2017 altercation with a woman, is another Dolphins UDFA with a shot to make the 53-man roster, as Brad Kelly of The Draft Network writes.