The Dolphins have lost two of their best players to injuries on the first two days of camp - receiver Will Fuller and cornerback Xavien Howard - and will be without offensive lineman DJ Fluker for at least several weeks.
Fluker was placed on injured reserve on Thursday because he needed minor arthroscopic knee surgery earlier in the day, according to a source.
Players placed on injured reserve during training camp are not eligible to be among players permitted to be designated to return to the team this season. But the Dolphins can reach an injury settlement, cut him and then re-sign him to play for them this season.
There was also a minor issue regarding a conditioning test, according to a team source. But the injury is what landed Fluker on IR.
Fluker started 14 games for Seattle in 2019 and eight for Baltimore in 2020. He was expected to be the Dolphins’ top swing backup tackle and possibly compete for a starting job.
Miami signed guard Ross Reynolds, a former undrafted free agent from Iowa who spent time on the practice squads of the 49ers (2019) and New England (2020).
Fuller left practice late Wednesday and wasn’t seen Thursday. An associate said he has a foot injury. The Dolphins already are without DeVante Parker and Preston Williams due to injuries, and Jakeem Grant’s role was somewhat limited Thursday.
Howard — who has asked for a trade because of unhappiness about his contract — left the practice field for a while Thursday with a minor injury sustained during Wednesday’s first session, according to a source. He came back outside to watch the end of Thursday’s session.
As for Howard’s future with the team, coach Brian Flores tap-danced around that issue.
He declined to answer when asked whether Howard will be a member of the team when Miami opens the regular season Sept. 12 at New England.
When Minkah Fitzpatrick and Kiko Alonso asked for trades, the Dolphins granted those requests.
Do Flores and general manager Chris Grier philosophically believe players who ask for trades should be granted those requests?
“It’s case by case,” Flores said. “Every situation is different. Every year is different. There’s a lot that goes into it. Chris’ opinion, my opinion, salary cap, this is not just one thing [of] it’s got to be this way or it’s got to be that way.”
Also out with injuries: linebacker Elandon Roberts (knee) and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker (lower body).
GESICKI GOES TO SCHOOL
There won’t be a diploma, credits toward an advanced degree or anything to signify Mike Gesicki’s enrollment at Tight End University this offseason.
But Gesicki is glad he attended what was essentially a summit and educational bonding session for 49 men who play his position.
“It was a lot of fun,”Gesicki said of the several June days in Nashville. “It was cool. Just kind of being around different guys around the league. Some guys who have already retired like Greg Olsen and you have some guys that are at the top of the league right now. So, just being able to pick some guys’ brains, learn some things, how they read defenses presnap and how they’re going to run this route and blocking techniques and all of that kind of stuff. It was cool. It was very productive. It was worth it.”
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle came up with the idea of bringing together many of the game’s tight ends after he saw that Denver linebacker Von Miller organized a pass rushers summit and Philadelphia’s Lane Johnson did the same with offensive linemen.
“There’s a holiday [National Tight Ends Day on the last Sunday of October], so why don’t we have a tight end summit? Why not have a little time where we can come together and learn from the best in the country?” Kittle told ESPN.
Gesicki said “you can definitely take things from everybody’s game.” The summit included a classroom session with film work.
Gesicki was the only Dolphins tight end who attended but cracked that “I was on FaceTime with [teammate] Durham [Smythe] the whole time. I missed him.”
Gesicki is entering the final year of his rookie contract but has shrugged off questions about an extension.
THIS AND THAT
Tua Tagovailoa completed a long pass to Albert Wilson for the second day in a row and threw three short TD passes in goal-line drills to Mack Hollins, Myles Gaskin and Jaylen Waddle.
Also notable from practice: Raekwon Davis had a sack of Tagovailoa… Jacoby Brissett completed a long pass to Isaiah Ford, beating Nik Needham… Ford made a nice lunging catch on another play.
▪ Linebacker Benardrick McKinney, who struggled in pass coverage on Thursday, said he took no issue with the Dolphins cutting his salary from $7.75 million to $3 million and eliminating the final two seasons of his contract (2022 and 2023).
“I’m just so happy to be able to play the game I love,” he said.
McKinney, a Pro Bowl player in 2018, missed Houston’s final 12 games last season with a shoulder injury.
“I’m back to 100 percent, back to myself,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to do the things I want to do. I want to prove to myself that I can still play, prove to everybody that being a big inside linebacker, I can still do what I do best, which is help defenses win games and fly around and make plays.”
▪ Brissett has looked pretty good through two days, making several impressive throws on one field, while Tagovailoa gets the bulk of work (and Reid Sinnett some work) on the other field.
Brissett said that before he signed, neither Flores nor anyone asked him his willingness to accept being a content backup and having no expectation of beating out Tagovailoa.
His thoughts on Tagovailoa? “He works hard, good kid.”
Here’s my Thursday piece on Jaylen Waddle and Jaelan Phillips.