The Miami Dolphins received some favorable news on Saturday, hours before Sunday’s critical AFC game against the Tennessee Titans, which has playoff ramifications for both teams.
Two of the team’s key defenders — strong safety Brandon Jones and defensive tackle Adam Butler — are traveling to Tennessee with the hopes that they can play in Sunday’s game against the Titans (10-5) if each player is symptom free after testing positive for COVID-19 this past week.
And on the Titans side, Tennessee will play against Miami (8-7) without pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones because he wasn’t from the COVID-19 reserve list by Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline. The Titans activated pass rusher Bud Dupree, defensive lineman Denico Autry and cornerback Buster Skrine. Jones has caught 26 passes for 376 yards but hasn’t scored a touchdown in the nine games he’s played for the Titans this season.
Dupree, a standout outside linebacker, has contributed 13 tackles, three sacks and forced one fumble in the nine games he’s played for Tennessee, which signed him as a free agent this past offseason.
Getting back Brandon Jones, a second-year safety who has emerged as one of Miami’s top playmakers, tallying 66 tackles, six sacks and one interception this season, could be huge for the Dolphins.
But it’s not guaranteed.
The Dolphins previously took a similar approach with safety Jevon Holland before Miami’s win over the Jets, removing the standout rookie from the COVID-19 list the day before the game, but he wasn’t cleared to return to the team until after days later.
Jones and Butler, a pass-rushing specialist who works in the nickel and dime package, will remain isolated from their coaches and teammates with the hope that they will be cleared Sunday morning to play.
The NFL’s new COVID rules implemented this past week allow players who test positive to return to their team after five days instead of 10 if they are asymptomatic.
Regardless of their vaccination status, players can return from isolation five days after testing positive if their symptoms have improved. They have to be without a fever for 24 straight hours without the use of a fever-reducing medication and must be cleared by the team physician.
Once they are cleared, the player must wear a mask for five days at all times when not practicing or playing in a game.
Players who are fully vaccinated may return sooner than five days if they return two negative tests.
The Dolphins opted to leave receiver Preston Williams, who is unvaccinated, and defensive tackle John Jenkins at home. They each tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.
The Dolphins can call up practice squad players to the active roster for every player who is on their COVID-19 list. Receiver Albert Wilson and offensive guard Solomon Kindley were on the list, but got taken off on Friday when they returned to practice. Both are expected to play against the Titans.
The Dolphins can decide which practice squad players get called up to the game day roster up to 90 minutes before kickoff. Andrew Billings and Benito Jones are the defensive linemen on the practice squad, and Kirk Merritt and Cody Core are the receivers. But Miami doesn’t have to call up players at those positions. They can use the spots for any of the 15 players on the practice squad.
Source: Berkshire mont