Two key Dolphins return to practice. And personnel notes | Miami Herald

Two key Dolphins return to practice. And personnel notes | Miami Herald

The latest Dolphins, Eagles injury developments. And what Howard, Ramsey do for Cam Smith

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Thursday:

▪ Center Connor Williams, who has missed two of the past three games with a groin injury, returned to practice on a limited basis on Thursday and said he’s “optimistic” about his chances of playing Sunday in Philadelphia (8:20 p.m., NBC).

He missed the Oct. 1 Buffalo game, played Oct. 8 against the Giants and sat out Oct. 15 against Carolina.

“In hindsight, I probably made it worse” by playing against the Giants, Williams said.

Cornerback Xavien Howard, who left Sunday’s Carolina game with a groin injury, practiced on a limited basis on Thursday with the hope that he will be healthy enough to play Sunday. His status for Sunday’s game is undetermined, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.

Also limited Thursday, besides Howard and Williams: fullback Alec Ingold (foot) and cornerbacks Kader Kohou (neck), Jalen Ramsey (knee) and Nik Needham (Achilles). Of those six, only Ramsey has been ruled out for the Philadelphia game.

Two Dolphins missed practice: linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (illness) and running back Chris Brooks (out multiple weeks with ankle/knee injuries).

Several top Eagles players are on the injury report, but they received good news on two fronts: Receiver DeVonta Smith returned to practice (he told reporters he will play Sunday) and cornerback Darius Slay (knee) was able to practice fully.

Among other key Eagles players, defensive tackle Jalen Carter (ankle), tight end Dallas Goedert (groin) and All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) were limited. Their status for Sunday is to be determined.

▪ With Howard limited, rookie cornerback Cam Smith this week has had his most practice reps since August and it has “gone great,” Smith said.

What has he been working on specifically? “Really, consistency,” he said. “Staying with the same technique. Making everything the same all the time. At South Carolina, I was always in press. I’m staying in my back pedal for a longer period [in this defense].”

His four defensive snaps late in the Carolina game were the first of his career. When he entered the game, he was thinking, “‘I’ve got to make a play.’”

He said he has been patient while waiting for his turn. “It’s a long season,” he said. “There’s a whole other 10 games. There’s nothing to be down about.”

Ramsey and Howard have mentored Smith to the extent that they regularly offer constructive critiques of his practice reps.

“We call each other,” Smith said. “[Ramsey] will say, ‘I see you did this’ [in a practice rep, with technique], but you could have done this.’ X will say what I should see.”

▪ Raheem Mostert, who has an NFL-leading 11 touchdowns, is very much aware of the NFL single-season touchdown record: 31, by LaDainian Tomlinson, for the Chargers in 2006.

“I’m fairly familiar with that record, and it would be an honor to even get close to that,” Mostert said. “I know I’m in a little hot streak right now, but LT’s record, that’s unbelievable. I remember that was his MVP year, and growing up watching his tape. I still do to this day.

“He’s a legend, and I was fortunate enough to meet him when I was in San Fran, and we had at least a 20- or 30-minute chat on the field. He’s a special guy. He’s a special cat.”

Mostert admitted: “Eleven touchdowns is actually a lot of touchdowns, now that you think about it,”

Mostert said he, Jaylen Waddle, Tyreek Hill, Robert Hunt, Tua Tagovailoa and Terron Armstead all have had roles in coming up with the team’s creative touchdown celebrations.

“I asked the group today in walk-through, ‘What’s going to be our celebration this week?’” Mostert said Wednesday. “So we’ve got a little bit of time. Friday is our cutoff day.

“Tua actually came up with the Remember The Titans [celebration]. He didn’t do it. I was like, ‘Bro, what are you doing? Come on, you’re supposed to be a part of that.’ It’s a collective group.”

▪ The Eagles are allowing just 3.6 yards per carry, sixth best in the league. The Dolphins lead the league at 6.5 per carry.

Miami should get a boost this week from Jeff Wilson Jr.’s expected return. The Wilson skill that has always stood out to running backs coach Eric Studesville is “how physical he runs the ball. Brings a great physical component to him.”

Was Studesville amazed by De’Von Achane’s 12.1 rushing average on 38 carries before he landed on injured reserve with a knee injury?

“It’s incredibly impressive,” Studesville said Thursday.

Incidentally, Studesville said he watched Brooks’ college tape (BYU/California) but it was “a great job by Chris Grier and his staff to find a talented kid who is hungry and maximizing his opportunity.” Brooks will miss several weeks with an ankle injury.

Studesville loves his running back room, not only because of their skill set, but because he has “excellent people truly being unselfish in what’s” considered a “selfish” position.

▪ Because the Dolphins score so many touchdowns, kicker Jason Sanders has attempted just one field goal in four weeks. He said that lack of work on field goals might have affected him before the NFL moved extra points from 20 to 33 yards.

“But now, at 33 yards, it feels like I’m kicking field goals,” he said.

Twenty nine NFL kickers have attempted more field goals this season than Sanders, who is 5 for 7; he missed a 55-yarder and a 49-yarder was blocked.

Incidentally, Sanders’ agent told him there was nothing “gained or lost” in his contract restructure that created an additional $1.3 million in cap space for the Dolphins this year. None of his $3.8 million salary next season is guaranteed.

▪ Quick stuff: Robert Jones — activated off injured reserve on Saturday — said the team has him working at guard (not center or tackle)…

Receiver Tyreek Hill said he hasn’t been told if he will be fined by the NFL for borrowing a cellphone to take a photo of himself doing a backflip after a touchdown in the Carolina game…

Per ESPN’s Seth Walder, the Dolphins are motioning at the snap 62 percent of the time, which would be by far the highest of any team since that metric started being tracked in 2017. The second-highest motion at snap rate was 46 percent, by the 2022 Dolphins. This season’s Rams are motioning at the snap 41 percent of the time…

Linebacker Jerome Baker summarized this game well: “This is a great test for us to see where we stack up against other great teams in this league. If we want to accomplish the things we want to accomplish, we’re going to have to face some good teams. Is it a measuring stick game? Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

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