De’Von Achane, Cedrick Wilson Jr. inactive for Dolphins vs. Chargers; McDaniel opens up about career challenges

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Miami Dolphins rookie running back De’Von Achane’s regular-season debut will have to wait.

Achane was a surprise healthy inactive for the team’s season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, along with veteran wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr.

Achane, although bothered by a shoulder injury in the latter portions of the preseason, did not enter Sunday with an injury designation and practiced in full throughout this past week.

Miami was already be without veteran running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who has started the season on injured reserve due to midsection and finger injuries.

Raheem Mostert started, with veteran Salvon Ahmed and rookie Chris Brooks handling the backup running back duties behind him. Both are undrafted players and made the team through impressive training camps and preseasons. In 30 career games over the previous three seasons with the Dolphins, Ahmed has run for 532 yards on 141 carries (a 3.8 average).

NFL Network cited rust for Achane, a third-round pick out of Texas A&M, in coming back from the shoulder ailment, when it broke the news on Achane ahead of the Dolphins’ official announcement 90 minutes prior to the 4:25 kickoff in Los Angeles.

Cedrick Wilson Jr. started his second season in Miami still trying to find his place among the Dolphins’ receiving corps. Although he was given a three-year, $22 million contract in 2022, he had just 12 catches for 136 yards with the team last season.

Wilson contributed some late last year on punt returns, but the Dolphins now have Braxton Berrios to handle those duties, along Berrios’ abilities as a slot receiver. Behind Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, the Dolphins also had River Cracraft and second-year wideout Erik Ezukanma among those available.

Between the two Dolphins who entered Sunday questionable, cornerback Justin Bethel and tight end Julian Hill, Hill (ankle) was out but Bethel (knee) was available.

Left tackle Terron Armstead and defensive back Elijah Campbell were inactive after they were deemed out on the Friday injury report. Armstead had targeted a Week 1 return from an Aug. 17 ankle injury, while he is also receiving treatment for knee and back ailments. Quarterback Skylar Thompson was inactive but available as an emergency third quarterback.

The Dolphins had outside linebacker Cameron Goode, who can play special teams, elevated from the practice squad for Sunday’s game-day roster, as announced Saturday.

For the Chargers, both their linebackers that entered doubtful — linebackers Daiyan Henley and Chris Rumph II — were out. Los Angeles also had safety AJ Finley, running back Isaiah Spiller, offensive lineman Brenden James and defensive lineman Christopher Hinton as inactives.

McDaniel opens up

McDaniel opened up in an ESPN “Sunday NFL Countdown” feature that aired Sunday morning ahead of the league’s opening Sunday slate of games.

McDaniel described when he was fired from the Houston Texans in 2008 by coach Gary Kubiak after he was constantly out partying and showed up late to work twice.

“In his words, he thought that I had to learn a life lesson,” McDaniel said in the piece. “In my mind, I was late twice. What he was telling me was you do whatever it takes to get things done. Your priorities are a little mixed up, and you’re going out too much. And I think you need to get that figured out.”

McDaniel keeps the number 865 in mind because that’s how long he was out of the NFL between being fired from the Texans and joining Washington’s staff in 2011.

“Part of the reason that I’m driven like I am has to do with subconsciously that — people have scars — and I didn’t want to be an afterthought in this life,” McDaniel said.

He vowed, from that point, to arrive to work before sunrise every day, but he still battled alcoholism, drinking every night. It became a crutch in his career advancement.

“It made me look in the mirror,” McDaniel said. “I was this close to losing a job that I changed my life format for.”

McDaniel advanced through the coaching ranks in recent years, making the jump to San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator in 2021 and getting hired for the head role with the Dolphins the next season.

“I may or may not be elite, but I’m definitely going to do everything in my power to be elite,” McDaniel said. “And where the chips fall, the chips fall.”

New starting left guard

Isaiah Wynn started at left guard after he was seen there when the Dolphins lined up their first-team offensive line in pregame warmups Sunday.

Wynn, a free-agent acquisition this offseason and mostly a tackle in four seasons with the New England Patriots, had been competing with 2021 first-round pick Liam Eichenberg for the role.

It appeared Wynn had solidified his post with a strong camp and preseason, combined with Eichenberg’s injury to his ribs, but McDaniel and the rest of his staff made sure not to reveal the results of the competition before Sunday’s opener. Wynn had been practicing with the first-team line this past week in practice.

Eichenberg can be versatile as a reserve lineman after adding center play to his repertoire during the offseason. If Connor Williams is injured at center, Eichenberg is expected to step in. He was seen snapping during warmups.

Miami started offensively with Wynn and tackle Kendall Lamm the starting left side of the line, as Armstead was out injured.

Defensively, the Dolphins started in a base 3-4 with DeShon Elliott starting at safety. On the second play, they switched to the nickel package, where Eli Apple entered to play boundary cornerback and Kader Kohou slid inside to cover the slot. Linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel also entered on the second play and was seen getting plenty of activity early.