By: Jason Sarney
Coach Brian Flores met with South Florida media Monday morning to give updates on training camp and of course the business of the game. We will get to training camp comments in a moment but first is the update on the Xavien Howard contract saga. Before reporting what coach Flores said, we must travel back to the spring where he let us all know about the uniqueness of the Howard contract situation.
He was very quick to tell reporters then, that this was a specific “renegotiation of an extension.” That original extension happened in 2019 and there were different parties involved with the drafting of that contract. Fast forward two seasons and All-Pro year for Howard and a new agent in DEC Management's David Canter, and we have the drama of the young decade unfolding in front of our eyes in South Florida and Social Media.
When Flores used his terminologies, it rang a bell in my own head as I tried to read in-between his words. In fact, it’s a term I have repeated to myself over and over again for several weeks. It just goes to indicate, in my opinion, that Brian Flores wants Xavien Howard on his team, and it also tells me what his way of communicating is to all of us. It is no coincidence that the term “communication” is one of coach’s favorite words.
Along with the word “dialogue," it is clear communication is key for the Miami Dolphins as a whole unit. "As far as the contract, I will continue to have dialogue with 'X' about that.” Flores told reports Monday morning. “I do think we are moving in the right direction."
This may not guarantee that Xavien Howard will be a dolphin in 2021 and beyond, but it certainly tells me that the Dolphins are making their efforts to keep Howard in town, and that there is not a “severed relationship.” I am convinced that information does not leave this front office, or at least accurate information does not leave his front office, and that is thanks to a number of personnel hires and organizational strategies this team has utilized.
The saga does continue, and the guess is still anybody’s on how this will end, however, there is a much higher confidence level this Monday morning then there was last Friday evening. As for football action in training camp, Flores mentioned “position flexibility,” as that is another one of his favorite terms. This term will be important on the offensive line as well as the defensive backfield and edge-rushers. Although it is still very early in camp as Flores realizes, the importance of versatility is top of the list for who will make this roster.
When asked where rookie Liam Eichenberg’s best spot on the line will be, Flores thought and paused. "I mean........it's early. It's so early. There is no long-term kinda thought here. It's one day at a time."
He then added, “I think position flexibility is important."
He also mentioned having "8" linemen available for games, so perhaps this is a slight tip of the hand on how many offensive linemen Miami carries. Currently, Miami has 16 offensive linemen in camp, and 17 when including the IR listed D.J. Fluker. It’s safe to say that half of camps big men up front, will not make the 53-man roster. Flexibility here is massively important and could make other areas of the team heavier in numbers; like wide receiver or cornerback, should Miami go with 8 offensive linemen on their main roster.
Flores also went on to mention that although early, Tua Tagovailoa has look good as well as the receivers, yet mentioned several times, “it’s still early.” He also handed out praise to rookie safety Jevon Holland.
Smart kid, he's hard-working. Football's important to him. He is trying to take in as much as he can." He adds, "he is trying to be a sponge." Flores mentioned veterans Jason McCourty, Eric Rowe and Xavien Howard as mentors to him.
The Dolphins hit the field this morning, as Training Camp and the Xavien Howard Saga continue.