DAVIE, Fla. — Miami Dolphins rookies Xavien Howard and Kenyan Drake are expected to make their preseason debuts Thursday against the Tennessee Titans.
Howard missed the first three-plus weeks of training camp recovering from arthroscopic surgery, while Drake has been sidelined by a hamstring injury, but they’re likely to see action in the final preseason tuneup.
“We’re going to play them both,” coach Adam Gase said Sunday. “We don’t want to overdo it, but I think right now they need to play.”
Howard, a second-round draft pick, still has a shot at winning a starting job at cornerback for the season opener at Seattle. Drake, a third-round pick, is projected as a backup running back.
Both took part in practice Sunday, the first since Thursday’s game against Atlanta. Among those sitting out were linebacker Jelani Jenkins (knee), defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (ankle), center Mike Pouncey (hip), reserve running back Isaiah Pead (hamstring) and backup quarterback Matt Moore (concussion).
Jenkins might return for the season opener, Gase said, and Moore is expected to be available then. Pouncey, however, might need a little more time to get healthy.
“It’s just going to be week to week,” Gase said. “I don’t want to put pressure on him to be like, ‘You have to be back at this date.'”
Pead is expected to be sidelined a couple of weeks, complicating his bid to make the roster.
Starters typically sit out the preseason finale, but some of the Dolphins’ first string will play, Gase said.
“Because we are so young, we probably have more guys that need to, play more than the luxury of having so many guys sitting out,” he said. “Some guys will be out, and some guys will be playing.”