MIAMI GARDENS — The Miami Dolphins have opened the practice window on rookie phenom De’Von Achane as he works his way back from injured reserve due to a knee ailment.
Achane returned to practice with the Dolphins on Monday. The running back has already missed four games, the minimum for an IR stint, since injuring the knee in the Oct. 8 win over the New York Giants and also got the team’s bye week to return to practice.
Achane was expected to return on the near side of his eligibility as the knee injury was never considered serious. Achane was seen working out on the side of drills during practices in Frankfurt, Germany ahead of the Dolphins’ Nov. 5 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and was moving and cutting well.
“There wasn’t tearing, it was more strain-type injury,” coach Mike McDaniel described Monday.
Achane now has a 21-day practice window open to be activated off IR. He could come back as soon as Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders, but McDaniel would not say what the tailback’s outlook is for this weekend.
“I’m so confident that he is going to play … today,” McDaniel said before Achane was indeed seen at Monday drills.
Achane, in four games as a rookie has 460 yards and five touchdowns on 38 rushing attempts for a whopping 12.1 yards-per-carry average. He also has two receiving touchdowns. In the Sept. 24 win over the Denver Broncos, Achane burst onto the NFL scene with four total touchdowns and 203 rushing yards.
The Dolphins are also monitoring injuries to offensive linemen Robert Hunt and Robert Jones upon return from the bye week.
“Robs are both week to week,” McDaniel said. “Not quite in the day-to-day category as of yet, but we’re going to see how they respond (Monday) with practice, but they’ve had a good bye week of rehabilitation.”
Hunt, Miami’s starting right guard, injured his hamstring in the Oct. 29 win over the New England Patriots. He then missed the game against the Chiefs in Germany, although he traveled with the team.
Jones slid in to start at left guard versus Kansas City, while Lester Cotton slid over to right guard, but he hurt his knee in the loss. McDaniel previously said Jones’ injury wouldn’t require surgery.
The Dolphins had beneficial placement of the bye week, splitting the first nine games of the season from the final eight-game stretch before a potential playoff run. It also came after the long travel to and from Germany.
McDaniel was surprised to be asked Monday how he’s feeling after being off, but overall sees himself and the team recharged.
“No one ever asks me how I feel. Maybe because it doesn’t matter,” he deadpanned. “I was a dad and I had like five meals a day to stay healthy and I got a ton of sleep. I think the players in the team meeting felt the wrath of my buildup of energy because they understand what’s ahead of (us) and are just really excited to get back to work with everyone rejuvenated.”
This rejuvenated bunch now hosts a Raiders team that may be galvanized by interim coach Antonio Pierce after Josh McDaniels was fired. Las Vegas, after defeating the New York Jets on Sunday night, is 2-0 under Pierce, with a home win against the Giants that preceded the Jets.
“When you do have that sort of change, I feel like people try to make it purposeful and come together,” McDaniel said. “It’s a legitimate tool that makes teams very, very dangerous because however it happens, if you can get a unit of players to work in one direction and play for each other, you’re a very, very dangerous team in the National Football League.”
Nonetheless, the Dolphins (6-3) are considered 10-point favorites against the Raiders (5-5).
Sun Sentinel Dolphins columnist Chris Perkins contributed to this report.