Following a week of rookies only, the veterans reported to camp Tuesday morning for the Miami Dolphins, and their freshman head coach, Mike McDaniel. On Wednesday, they hit the field.
Predicting Miami’s success this season is no easy task, as there are still many questions and variables for the team, despite a terrific offseason of signings and trades that bolstered the roster with star power.
Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Cedrick Wilson Jr. were added to a roster that has youthful talent at the position in Jaylen Waddle entering year two. Elite left tackle Terron Armstead, formerly of the New Orleans Saints, was signed to anchor an offensive line of young prospects, four of whom were drafted in the last three seasons by Miami.
While this is the first Dolphins training camp for Armstead, Hill, Wilson and a slew of other new acquisitions for Miami, there are several current players in the last year of their contract or on a newly inked one-year deal. These players will be fighting to make sure this is not their last training camp in aqua and orange.
Preston Williams is perhaps the most notable bubble receiver on the Dolphins’ roster. With the signing of veteran Mohamed Sanu, yet another name is added to the long list of targets vying for the six or seven spots on the 53-man roster. This creates a tougher road for the fourth-year undrafted free agent.
Williams’ main problem in his young career has nothing to do with his ability. The issue has always been availability. The story has been told, and after three seasons and only 24 games played, there’s a make-or-break urgency to 2022’s training camp for the player once dubbed “The Unicorn.”
Glimpses of freakish athletic ability from the 6-foot-5, 220-pound, all-around athlete had been outweighed by numerous injuries to begin his NFL career.
While his rookie year began with promise, he quickly became Miami’s most targeted receiver in 2019. However, an ACL tear midway through the season during a punt return against the New York Jets, a game in which he already scored two receiving touchdowns, halted his start. Williams finished with 32 receptions, 428 yards, and three touchdowns in eight appearances. That’s not too shabby if you project what his full potential could have been statistically if 16 games were played.
In 2020, Williams returned from his ACL injury, and his season started slow until he had his first career 100-yard game in a Week 5 blowout win against the San Francisco 49ers. He added a touchdown in that contest, and across from Miami’s sideline was a 49ers offensive assistant coach who would become the Dolphins’ leading man. Perhaps McDaniel remembers the performance.
Following that game, Williams tallied two more scores in the next three weeks, one of them leading to his other significant injury. In what truly could be called an odd occurrence, Williams dove into the end zone for a touchdown, while being tackled by the foot, and that undoubtedly caused his injury, which could very well have been added to in the moment of celebration.
As silly as that sounds, and regardless of the past injuries and drop issues, Williams was back returning kicks on training camp’s first day.
This means that a new offensive regime is still finding opportunities for him, which could be indicative of the organization’s confidence in his ability, while all hope that he can consistently provide availability.
Williams will get work this summer in two phases of football in order for him to extend his newly signed one-year deal worth around $965,000 in base salary with a $100,000 signing bonus, according to Spotrac.
Joining him on return workouts were Hill, Waddle and CFL import DeVonte Dedmon.
Williams carries a cap hit of just $1.29 million with a $275,000 potential dead cap hit. There’s a nothing-to-lose approach to Miami giving him one last shot at a productive and continual role within their offense, or as it seems, the return game.