Early on in Sunday’s matchup vs. the Arizona Cardinals, Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams started to find a grove with rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa. It was the start of something beautiful, and we started to see those WR1 type skills that we knew he possessed. Which, to be honest was needed after his struggles from a week ago.
Williams secured 4/5 targets for 60 yards and a touchdown. Everything was good–until it wasn’t.
At some point during the Unicorn’s 15-yard touchdown reception, he tweaked his ankle. And although we are uncertain exactly what the injury is, we now know it will keep the second-year wide receiver out for at least three weeks.
Here’s exactly what coach Flores said regarding Williams from the Sun Sentinel’s Omar Kelly.
"We ran some tests. Preston is going to go to IR. It's a little bit more significant than we initially thought," Flores on Preston Williams.
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) November 11, 2020
The question now is, where do the Dolphins turn to find receiver help? The trade deadline is over. Any help at this point needs to come from another team’s practice squad (unprotected) or internally. And if this coaching staff has shown us one thing since they’ve got here, it’s that those players that put in the work will be rewarded.
Here are 5 players the Dolphins need to step up in Williams’ absence
Grant is a fan-favorite. But despite his big-play abilities, we’ve yet to see him truly unleashed in the way many believe he should be. This is his time to prove he’s more than just a wide receiver. And as I pointed out last week, his speed allows him to create separation that other wide receivers on the roster are not capable of. Tagovailoa turned to Grant a few times in critical situations over the last two games. Is this the beginning of Grant’s transformation to becoming the WR he knows he can ?
It’s your time to shine, Jakeem.
coming soon 4.0 pic.twitter.com/Rj48oiU3IL
— josh houtz (@houtz) June 9, 2020
The 23-year-old speedster from Miami, Florida, hasn’t played in an NFL game since Week 9 of last season. But yet, fans are excited about what he can add to this offense. Personally, Brian Flores tempered my expectations a bit when he said he only saw Callaway practice for the first time last week. I don’t know where things stand now, but Miami hopes they can see more of the player he was in college and as a rookie in Cleveland, where he scored five touchdowns.
The Dolphins could really use 2018 Antonio Callaway, now, more than ever.
the @miamidolphins get WR @ripbobby_g back this week and after trading isaiah ford to NE, he may be needed to fill in sooner than expected. throughout his two-year career, callaway caught 51/94 targets for 675 yards and 5 TDs.
— josh houtz (@houtz) November 3, 2020
Lynn Bowden would’ve been part of this article, but he’s currently on the COVID-19/Reserve-list, and I think what I say for Perry can apply to both players–given their unique skill-sets and versatility. With Bowden out in recent weeks, Perry has found his way into the lineup. But besides a first-down reception vs. Los Angeles and a creative triple-option from Chan Gailey vs Arizona, he has been quiet through eight games.
Now, with Williams injury and the offense slowly starting to evolve, Malcolm Perry should see an uptick in snaps.
looks like tua and malcolm perry are getting along quite well. pic.twitter.com/g7GNQqTikx
— josh houtz (@houtz) August 24, 2020
The former 4th-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles is known for making big plays on special teams. But as we were reminded on Sunday, Mack Hollins is a wide receiver first. Hollins was productive in college, where he recorded 81 receptions for 1,667 yards and 20 touchdowns. He may not have had a breakout NFL career, but at 27-years-old there’s still plenty of time. And after seeing the way he went up and plucked that football, it really might be the return of the Mack?
Alexa, play Return of the Mack. 🎶🕺🏽 pic.twitter.com/GSf2B5Q0vG
— Mack Hollins (@mackhollins) November 10, 2020
After The Glitch’s success in 2019, Dolphins fans could not wait to find ‘tHE nExT pReStOn WiLLiAmS.’ And despite being firmly supplanted on the team’s practice squad for a majority of the year, fans were ecstatic to hear when they found out he would travel with the team vs. Arizona. Now, with a game under his belt, could the rookie be asked to do more for the Dolphins?
Merritt’s career sky-rocketed after he transferred to Arkansas State. He recorded 158 receptions for 1,811 yards and 19 touchdowns. And with legit 4.33 speed, Miami needs to find out what he can do and, most importantly, give him an opportunity to showcase his skills./
One of Miami's UDFAs is WR Kirk Merritt of Arkansas State, who was once on Last Chance U. This video has to be a typo, LOL. https://t.co/UL7VdTc2Vv
— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) April 26, 2020
Losing Preston Williams is a big blow to Miami’s offense; no one can deny that. But as we’ve seen all season long, Brian Flores and his team will find ways to adapt and continue to push forward. I can’t sit here and tell you WHO is going to step up, though I’d put a wager on more opportunities for Jakeem Grant, Antonio Callaway, and Mike Gesicki, above the rest. But let’s be honest, no one thought Myles Gaskin would be the Dolphins starting RB. Or Zach Sieler would be making dominant plays on Miami’s defensive line.
It’s a next-man-up mentality in Miami. And I’m certain each of the Dolphins young wide receivers are biting at the bit for any and every opportunity.