Chris Perkins: Dolphins’ Jalen Ramsey returns to practice, boosting everyone’s hopes

 

Chris Perkins: Dolphins’ Jalen Ramsey returns to practice, boosting everyone’s hopes

Dolphins All Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey returned to practice Wednesday, and the hope is he’ll return to games in the next month or so.

MIAMI GARDENS — Hope arrived at Miami Dolphins practice Wednesday, and it was wearing an aqua No. 5 jersey.

All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the defensive savior who has been sidelined since sustaining a left knee injury on the second day of training camp, was on the practice field, boosting hopes he’ll soon return to games.

In reality, he can’t return soon enough.

The Dolphins’ defense is ranked 11th overall (343.7 yards per game), but it allowed 433 yards to the Los Angeles Chargers and 414 yards to Buffalo, its two toughest opponents.

Coach Mike McDaniel said he was “excited” to have Ramsey back.

All of his teammates seemed excited about Ramsey’s practice appearance, which included scout team participation.

“He looked good to me,” linebacker Jerome Baker said.

Some of his teammates are surprised he’s back so quickly. Media reports said he’d return in December.

“I guess he’s superhuman,” cornerback Kader Kohou said.

Ramsey, the three-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowl pick, is good. He’s good enough to challenge wide receiver Tyreek Hill, the four-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl pick, as the best player on the team. Both seem headed for the Hall of Fame.

Ramsey could be closer.

Ramsey is a shutdown corner. He’s also a guy who can play the slot as well as a modified linebacker position.

But that’s not all the Dolphins get in Ramsey.

They get a guy who will help the pass rush, too.

“Up front, we don’t say it as much but we use those guys in the back end,” edge rusher Bradley Chubb said. “We both need each other. To have a guy of that caliber back on the back end is going to help us up front.”

They’re also getting someone so dedicated to his craft and his return. He barely missed any rehab days or defensive backs meetings.

“I’ve never been around a guy that had this long of a rehab that hasn’t missed team meetings and hasn’t missed practices,” McDaniel said. “He is finding a way to affect the team in one way, shape or form, so his confidence will be as high as one can be in this stage, I can tell you that much because of his work.”

And they’re getting a guy who excited the fan base.

I’m old enough to remember the days when Ramsey and Dolphins Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard would appear at a Heat playoff game together. They’d do TV interviews during the game. They’d show them on the scoreboard and the crowd would go crazy imagining the possibilities.

Now we can revert back to the possibilities.

The possibilities seemed endless in March, when Ramsey was dealt to the Dolphins from the Los Angeles Rams.

You pair Ramsey with Howard, and use Kohou, the  fast-rising second-year cornerback in the slot, and you’re as good, or perhaps better than everyone else in the league.

This was the original plan. It’s probably close to the plan that highly-sought defensive coordinator Vic Fangio envisioned when he signed on in February – get a top-level defender such as Ramsey and watch the opposing offenses get handled.

That could still happen.

You figure Ramsey’s 21-day window opened Wednesday, meaning the Dolphins basically now have 21 days to decide whether to put Ramsey on the active roster or put him back on injured reserve.

Don’t worry. If he doesn’t have a setback, Ramsey will be activated at some point.

He wasn’t wearing a brace or a sleeve on his surgically repaired left knee Wednesday, and looked to be moving around comfortably, meaning without wincing and without favoring the left leg.

Players are thrilled at the prospect of Ramsey taking the field again.

“An individual being in the league for a long time you see a lot of different looks,” safety Jevon Holland said, “and being an elite player like he is, he has that extra eye to see things that maybe the average eye doesn’t so it’s always nice to have that input and that added veteran experience, especially when he’s a been in a defense similar to it.”

Figuring conservatively with what we now know, let’s say Ramsey misses the next three games – Philadelphia, New England and Kansas City. Let’s further say he’d return for the Las Vegas game (Nov. 19) and require three games to work himself into game shape, meaning the Raiders game as well as the New York Jets (Nov. 24) and Washington Commanders (Dec. 3).

That would mean Ramsey could be in top form for the close of the regular season — Tennessee, the Jets, Dallas, Baltimore and Buffalo — and playoffs.

If you want to figure aggressively, let’s say there’s a chance Ramsey appears in a game before the bye.

McDaniel didn’t rule it out.

“I think it’s fair to say there’s a chance,” he said.

Anything is possible.

And it certainly seems that way for the Dolphins’ defense now that Ramsey has returned to the practice field.

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