Preston Williams

Dolphins Activate Preston Williams, Elandon Roberts From PUP List

After spending three weeks on the Dolphins’ active/PUP list to start training camp, Preston Williams and Elandon Roberts are practicing with the team again. The Dolphins activated the third-year wide receiver and sixth-year linebacker Thursday.

Both players return to position groups that have seen big changes this offseason. After going through the 2020 season thin at wide receiver, the Dolphins added Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle. And Albert Wilson has impressed his first training camp post-opt-out. Miami also traded Shaq Lawson for longtime Texans inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney.

The Dolphins used Roberts as an 11-game starter last season, though the former Patriot’s initial Miami slate proved a bit rocky. Pro Football Focus graded Roberts as its worst full-time linebacker in 2020, but his coverage issues largely contributed to this assessment. The Dolphins re-signed the run-stuffing ‘backer in March, doing so after trading for McKinney. Roberts suffered a late-season knee injury that ended up requiring surgery that put his Week 1 status in doubt. He might now be trending upward for Miami’s opener.

Williams has run into multiple bad injury breaks. An ACL tear halted the former UDFA’s promising rookie season, and the Colorado State product’s 2020 campaign also stopped at the eight-game mark. Williams has spent the past several months rehabbing a Lisfranc issue, one that placed his Week 1 status in doubt as well. The 6-foot-5 wideout has produced in limited time, hauling in 50 receptions for 716 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 career games, but the Dolphins’ offseason additions at receiver will affect his role.

Both players can no longer be stashed on the Dolphins’ reserve/PUP list to start the season, but each can be placed on IR — so long as they are carried over to the team’s regular-season roster following the preseason — if the team deems them not ready by Week 1. The NFL kept its 2020 IR rules, which allow teams to activate players from IR after three weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Dolphins’ WRs

For years the Dolphins have lacked quality receivers, but now they actually have an abundance of depth at the position. It’s a good problem to have, but it also means that some solid players could be on the outside looking in when we get to roster cut-downs.

There’s a lot of uncertainty at the position and a lot to sort through, and fortunately Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald just broke it all down. Albert Wilson flashed a ton of potential during his first season with the Dolphins in 2018, but injuries hampered him then and in 2019. He then opted out of the 2020 season, leading many to believe he’d be on the roster bubble this time around. However, it appears that he’s safe. Wilson is “going to be on the team,” Jackson writes, noting he’s been the most consistent receiver in camp.

The same can’t be said for 2020 third-round pick Lynn Bowden. The Kentucky product has “gone from slight front-runner to make the team to very much on the bubble with an underwhelming camp,” despite being the 80th overall pick just last year. In 10 games and four starts last year, Bowden had 28 catches for 211 yards.

Meanwhile, there’s some bad news on Preston Williams. The 2019 UDFA has looked like a diamond in the rough find the past couple years, but he apparently isn’t over the Lisfranc foot injury that cut his 2020 short. Although the team “originally was optimistic that Williams would be fine to start the season,” the Colorado State product now “appears iffy at best” for Week 1.

Jackson writes that Williams is a candidate to start the year on the PUP list, which would sideline him for the first six games. He also says the “odds are against” veteran Allen Hurns making the 53, even though Hurns has $1.2MM in guaranteed money coming his way.

Jackson also expects the Dolphins to be open to a potential trade of Jakeem Grant if a team in need of a returner is willing to part with a late-round pick. In addition to all these guys, Miami still has Will Fuller, DeVante Parker, and rookie first-rounder Jaylen Waddle at the top of the depth chart.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/5/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Atlanta Falcons 

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

  • Reverted to IR: OT Cody Conway

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Waived: QB Case Cookus

New Orleans Saints

  • Waived: DE Kendall Donnerson

New York Jets

  • Reverted to IR: S Brandon White

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Reverted to IR: G Anthony Coyle

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

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.