Waddle played in just 43 percent of the team’s offensive snaps against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16. He caught one of his four targets for 50 yards.
“Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who is nursing a high ankle sprain, is not expected to play Sunday at the Baltimore Ravens, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday,” ESPN reported.
Losing Waddle is a huge blow for the Dolphins, who are still hoping to nab the No. 1 seed in the AFC this season.
Baltimore, who is a game up on the Dolphins for the No. 1 seed, would clinch the top spot in the conference with a win in Week 17. The Dolphins have clinched a playoff spot and currently sit in the No. 2 spot in the AFC.
While Waddle isn’t the Dolphins’ No. 1 threat on the outside, he is still a key part of the team’s offense. He takes some pressure off of star Tyreek Hill since he also possesses elite speed.
This season, Waddle has caught 72 of his 104 targets in 14 games. He missed the team’s Week 3 win over the Denver Broncos, but has recorded 1,014 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns.
Waddle has three straight 1,000-yard seasons to begin his career, becoming the first player in Dolphins franchise history to record three consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards.
Replacing Waddle won’t be easy, and Miami may rely on Cedrick Wilson Jr. and Braxton Berrios to pick up the slack at the receiver position.
The team may also look to lean on the running game, led by Raheem Mostert and rookie running back De’Von Achane, a little more. Dolphins fans can also probably expect to see a steady dose of looks to Hill, who is attempting to break 2,000 receiving yards this season.
Hill enters Week 17 with 1,641 receiving yards in 14 games (missed one game due to injury).
Baltimore’s defense has been tough all season long, allowing just 4.5 yards per play and ranking sixth in the league in passing yards allowed. The Dolphins will need someone to step up to fill Waddle’s shoes in Week 17.
The Dolphins and Ravens are scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 31.