The Dolphins have little choice but to count heavily on second-round pick Xavien Howard to help shore up their secondary, but the question of how much the rookie can contribute early this season won’t be answered Thursday night against Atlanta.
Howard, coming off a knee injury that has sidelined him all training camp, said Sunday that he won’t make his preseason debut against the Falcons, but rather the Sept. 1 preseason finale against Tennessee.
“I don’t call it a setback,” he said.
In fact, Howard said with just the Titans game to break the ice on his NFL career, he’ll be good to go in the regular-season opener at Seattle.
“Yes, sir,” he said. “Without a doubt.”
Howard, who played at Baylor, dressed for the Dallas game last week even though he was held out. He said he benefited with “a lot of mental reps and just seeing what the other guys are going and just learning from them.”
The Dolphins hope so, because he had been expected to offer second-year man Tony Lippett a stiff challenge to start opposite Byron Maxwell at cornerback.
“My leg is better,” he said. “It’s just going to improve when I come out there.”