Byron Jones’ absence could be distressing in Dolphins’ first four weeks

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Heading into the 2022 season, the Miami Dolphins have placed cornerback Byron Jones on the reserve/PUP list, meaning he will miss the first four weeks of the year.

Jones had surgery on his lower leg this offseason, and it kept him out of minicamps, OTAs, training camp and the preseason games. However, head coach Mike McDaniel always portrayed an air of confidence when it came to this injury, leading many to believe that Jones would be ready to go for the opener against the New England Patriots on Sept. 11.

In Jones’ absence, Nik Needham has been playing some outside cornerback spot opposite Xavien Howard, which is obviously a change from his normal slot role. That inside role has been a place where Needham has succeeded. Last year, Pro Football Focus had him playing 272 coverage snaps in the slot without conceding a touchdown, the most of any slot cornerback.

Needham’s potential movement would mean one of Keion Crossen, Noah Igbinoghene, Elijah Campbell and Kader Kohou will be playing inside. Crossen’s been a career special teamer, Igbhinoghene’s a disappointing former first-round pick, Campbell’s a former AAF/XFL cornerback with a bit of experience and Kohou is an undrafted rookie.

None of the options are particularly ideal.

Luckily, the Dolphins start off the year with games against the Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens, who aren’t particularly deep at wide receiver, but they do have some potential threats at tight end to make up for it.

The following two games get tougher, as Miami hosts the Buffalo Bills before traveling to Cincinnati to face the AFC champion Bengals. They were seventh and eighth in passing yards in 2021, respectively.

Buffalo’s receiving corps is led by Stefon Diggs, who will likely draw Howard in coverage, but Gabriel Davis is a budding star for the Bills and could end up causing some trouble.

For Cincinnati, they’re loaded with talent at wideout, as Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd could be considered one of the best trios in the league. Add in the fact that it’s Joe Burrow throwing them the ball, and that offense really strikes fear into opposing defenses.

Miami could still add at cornerback, with veterans like Janoris Jenkins and Joe Haden still on the market, but for them to come in and get adjusted to the system and ready to play could take some time.

Either way, the loss of Jones puts the Dolphins’ defense in a tough spot to start the season.

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Dolphins initial practice squad tracker

Story originally appeared on Dolphins Wire