The Miami Dolphins return from their bye week on a four-game winning streak and are set to face the spiraling Houston Texans on Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla.
The Dolphins (7-3) look to be as healthy as they have been in quite some time with several players returning to the practice field this week.
The key to Miami’s offense continues to be the improved play of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is having an MVP-caliber season. Tagovailoa entered the week leading the NFL with a 118.4 passer rating and ranked fourth in the AFC in touchdown passes (18) behind only Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow and Josh Allen.
The Dolphins are 7-0 when Tagovailoa starts and finishes a game this season.
While the Dolphins have found stability under center, the Texans (1-8-1) are reportedly ready to make a change at quarterback.
NFL Network reported on Wednesday that Houston is benching second-year starter Davis Mills and is likely to start Kyle Allen, who has 24 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and an 84.9 passer rating in 21 career NFL games (17 starts) combined during stints with Carolina and Washington.
Texans coach Lovie Smith didn’t confirm the move when asked on Wednesday, but didn’t deny it either.
Mills completed 19 of 33 passes for 169 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and a 46.1 passer rating in a 23-10 loss to Washington last week.
Allen has yet to take a snap this season, but completed 11 of 15 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown during two preseason appearances.
“Kyle can make all the throws. He has a history of good play in the NFL,” Smith said Tuesday. “He’s a veteran that’s been in situations, gets rid of the ball quickly. There’s a lot of things to like about what Kyle has done.
“We’re not pleased with where we are. Do we need to do some things differently? Yes, and we will.”
Miami doesn’t want to see much change except in the kicking game, where typically-reliable Jason Sanders is struggling.
Sanders ranks 29th among kickers who have kicked in at least four games this season with a 76.5 percent field goal percentage. Sanders missed two extra points in the Dolphins’ most recent win against Cleveland and has missed three overall while going 13-for-17 on field goals. He is 36 of 48 on field goals following the 2020 season, when he made 36 of 39.
“Jason has been a very good kicker in this league,” Dolphins special teams coordinator Danny Crossman told reporters this week. “I have no doubt he’ll get back to that. Jason will get it right. I believe in Jason.”
The Texans will need Allen to ignite an offense that sputtered completely last week.
Even rookie running back Dameon Pierce, who came into the game with 772 rushing yards, was held in check, tallying just 8 yards on 10 carries.
One prominent member of Miami’s backfield — Raheem Mostert (knee) — did not practice on Wednesday, nor did punter Thomas Morstead (illness). Tackle Terron Armstead (toe), linebacker Jerome Baker (hip), quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (knee), tight end Tanner Conner (knee/back), cornerback Keion Crossen (shoulder) and defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (knee) were all limited.
For the Texans, defensive back Derek Stingley Jr. (hamstring) and long snapper Jon Weeks (personal) did not practice.
–Field Level Media
The Houston Texans are signing free agent defensive end Jerry Hughes, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.
The durable 33-year-old veteran has missed only one game since the 2011 season.
He played all 17 games (16 starts) with Buffalo in 2021 and posted 18 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Hughes has 58 sacks, 82 tackles for loss, 129 quarterback hits, 16 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries in 184 games (134 starts) with the Indianapolis Colts (2010-12) and Bills.
The Texas native was a first-round pick (31st overall) by Indianapolis in 2010 out of TCU.
–Field Level Media
After two seasons with the Houston Texans, wide receiver Brandin Cooks has committed to two more, agreeing to a deal with the team Thursday, NFL Network reported.
Terms of the deal were not reported.
Cooks, 28, had a career-best 90 receptions last season for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns as Houston was a disappointing 4-13. In two seasons with the Texans, he has 171 receptions for 2,187 yards and 12 TDs over 31 games.
In eight NFL seasons with the New Orleans Saints (2014-16), New England Patriots (2017), Los Angeles Rams (2018-19) and Texans, the Oregon State product has 573 career receptions for 7,917 yards and 46 touchdowns.
–Field Level Media
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will not face criminal charges after a Texas grand jury did not indict him Friday following accusations of sexual misconduct by 22 women.
While the criminal aspect of the case is now complete, Watson still faces the prospect of discipline from the NFL, while also being the subject of civil lawsuits filed by his accusers.
The first civil lawsuit filed against Watson came nearly a year ago, with the quarterback not playing in 2021 after he had requested a trade last January.
The Harris County grand jury on Friday dismissed the nine criminal complaints it was ordered to address.
“Today we presented nine criminal complaints for consideration by the grand jury,” prosecutor Johna Stallings said, according to ESPN. “… The grand jury considered all of (the) evidence and returned nine no bills against Deshaun Watson involving these nine criminal complaints. We respect the grand jury’s decision and … conclude the criminal proceedings in Harris County.”
Stallings said evidence was presented for six hours. Witness also were available to testify. ESPN reported that eight of the women who filed suit against Watson did testify.
Commissioner Roger Goodell repeatedly has said only that the NFL is closely monitoring the events related to the Watson case while conducting its own investigation.
Watson passed for 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2020 following a landmark contract extension with the Texans worth $156 million over four years. That deal has yet to kick in as Watson had two years to go on his rookie contract, including a fifth-year option standard for first-round picks.
–Field Level Media