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Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins’ running back battle pauses as a key player likely out for rest of preseason

 

Kenyan Drake’s preseason is likely done, and the running back’s availability for the opener is in some doubt after sustaining a foot injury during Tuesday’s practice.

Drake was held out Wednesday, watching the Dolphins’ and Buccaneers’ joint practice from the sideline with his right foot in a walking boot.

“We take things day to day here,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said, when asked if Drake will be ready for Week 1. “The opener is down the road. He’s got a little injury. He’s just going to take it day to day. He’s got a great attitude about it. I think he’ll be OK.”

To play again in the preseason, Drake would need to make a dramatic recovery in less than a week. The Dolphins’ third exhibition game is Aug. 21, and few teams play their top guys in the fourth game.

Drake’s injury added to a growing list of big-name Dolphins who are sidelined this summer.

Thirteen players missed practice Wednesday because of ailments of varying degrees of severity: Drake; wide receivers DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant; safeties Walt Aikens, Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald; linebackers Kiko Alonso, Andrew Van Ginkel, Chase Allen, Raekwon McMillan and Quentin Polling; cornerback Cordrea Tankersley; and defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche.

Until Drake recovers, the starting running back job belongs to Kalen Ballage, who ripped off another long touchdown run during Wednesday’s practice.

“They all work together,” Flores said. “It’s 11 guys. When you put 11 guys [out there] and they execute their responsibility you’ll get a good play. Kalen did a good job making a guy miss and that’s how you get long runs — receivers block, and blocking corners and secondary players and that’s how you get long runs. It takes everybody.”

Williams’ role grows again

Rookie phenom Preston Williams proved there is indeed at least one thing even he cannot do — at least without some practice.

With Grant sidelined by a hamstring injury, the Dolphins have been cycling through potential punt returners. On Wednesday, Williams got his shot — and dropped one of the balls kicked his way.

“That was my first time,” Williams said. “It was pretty cool.”

Williams has otherwise impressed in his first training camp, and while Miami’s coaching staff is trying to keep the hype train in the station, it might have already gone off the rails. Dolphins fans can’t get enough of Williams — and he is enjoying the love.

“I think so,” Williams said, when asked if he deserves the attention. “Make plays and people notice.”

Odds and ends

Kenny Stills and Stephen Ross had a “short” conversation in the past few days, and they “agreed to disagree” about Ross’ decision to host a fundraiser for President Donald Trump — which Stills criticized, first on Twitter and then to reporters.

“I think it’s important to understand people can disagree on things and still move forward,” Stills said. “A lot of the things I’ve talked about are being a human being, being respectful, and really just caring about others, and trying to draw the line in the sand when it comes to hate and divisiveness. That’s where I draw the line, and I’m trying to encourage other people to do the same.”

Stills said in retrospect he agreed with Flores, who said that he would have preferred Stills would have spoken to Ross before sending out the tweet.

Dolphins defenders intercepted Buccaneers quarterbacks no fewer than four times Thursday, with Minkah Fitzpatrick, Nick DeLuca, Jomal Wiltz and Chris Lammons all picking off passes.

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