Latest Xavien Howard update will give Miami Dolphins fans mixed feelings

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The Miami Dolphins received some good and bad news regarding star cornerback Xavien Howard.

Howard, who suffered a foot injury against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, does not appear to need surgery, which could be a good sign for his chances of returning this season.

However, Howard is not expected to play in Week 18 against the Buffalo Bills, according to Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel.

The Dolphins are playing for the AFC East crown in Week 18, as the winner of that game will take the division and get a home game in the playoffs. The loser will end up in the wild card, which would be a major blow for the Dolphins after they entered Week 17 with a chance to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Miami’s hopes for the No. 1 seed were dashed when the team lost badly to Baltimore, giving the Ravens the top spot in the conference. With Buffalo beating New England on Sunday, it sets up a winner-take-all game in Week 18 for the AFC East.

Howard, a four-time Pro Bowler, has been one of the best cornerbacks in football for quite some time.

The Dolphins will look to replace him in Week 18 with Kader Kohou, Eli Apple, Justin Bethel and Cam Smith. Kohou has played over 86 percent of the team’s snaps on defense this season while Apple has played over 45 percent.

This season, Howard has appeared in 13 games for the Dolphins (starting all of them). He’s picked off one pass and made 45 tackles. The star cornerback hasn’t been as successful as he was in the 2021 season (five interceptions) or 2020 season (10 interceptions), but he’s still an integral part of the team’s defense.

It’s worth noting that Howard made the Pro Bowl last season despite having just one interception in 15 games.

Miami’s secondary will have its hands full with an explosive Buffalo offense that features quarterback Josh Allen and receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis.

Buffalo beat the Dolphins handily in the first meeting between these teams this season, so Miami will need to turn things around to avoid a similar outcome.

The Dolphins and Bills will play on Sunday Night Football in Week 18.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.