There’s a great deal of function to think about Xavien Howard can have a bounce-back 2023 season.
The Miami Dolphins cornerback has an offseason to allow closing 12 months’s groin accidents to chill down. He has a excessive defensive ideas inside the recreation now essential the unit with the hiring of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, whose array of zone coverages could profit Howard. And he has one different elite cornerback changing into a member of him inside the secondary in Jalen Ramsey.
However what could fuel Howard in all probability probably the most is the notion that his career is on the decline as a result of the four-time Professional Bowler turns 30 July 4.
“Simply seeing individuals saying I’m washed, I’m getting older and stuff like that,” Howard talked about Wednesday in a info conference at employees providers after the Dolphins opened their offseason train program Monday. “Just a bit little bit of motivation. Persons are going to say this and say that. I’ve been proving the critics fallacious my entire life, so it’s nothing new.”
Certain, Howard was named to his fourth Professional Bowl in 2022, but it surely certainly appeared like he was voted in further on reputation than his on-field effectivity over the course of the season.
“I actually didn’t prefer it,” Howard talked about. “My expectations — I really feel prefer it wasn’t Professional Bowl caliber. Regardless that I made it, I used to be like, ‘OK.’ However it made me even push more durable. Like, I don’t need to get in like that.”
Howard was burned plenty of cases in safety all by means of the season. He surrendered a 101.2 passer rating in his safety house and 9.3 yards per objective. Usually a ballhawk as a result of the NFL’s chief in interceptions since he entered the league in 2016 (28), Howard launched down just one inside the 2022 widespread season, plus one different inside the playoff loss in Buffalo.
Lots of the issues wanted to do with lingering groin accidents he tried to play through since early inside the season. Howard talked about he injured one groin Week 2 in the direction of the Baltimore Ravens. Taking part in in depth defensive snaps the subsequent Sunday in the direction of the Payments, he hurt the other. He then had the strong turnaround of dealing with every ailing groins on a quick week in Cincinnati.
However that’s all behind Howard.
“I’m wholesome now,” he talked about. “All I wanted was some relaxation. With a groin harm, week in and week out, particularly enjoying defensive again and enjoying a variety of man [coverage], it put me down slightly bit. However I’m higher now.”
Not like earlier defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, Fangio deploys zone coverages far more normally. This will help preserve Howard’s legs brisker, and presumably it lets him get once more to being the cornerback that had 10 interceptions in 2020, seven in 2018 and 5 in 2021.
“Getting my eyes on the quarterback goes to be one thing completely different,” Howard talked about. “I’m not attempting on the quarterback so now I’ll get my eyes on the quarterback and understand route concepts. I actually really feel choose it’ll help my recreation.
“His protection has all the time been prime 5, so he’s been doing a very good job at that. I’m trying ahead to having him on my facet now and enhance our protection.”
Howard moreover now has a model new cornerback mate inside the three-time All-Professional, six-time Professional Bowl participant, Ramsey. Coupling these two with safety Jevon Holland, each Brandon Jones or DeShon Elliott on the completely different safety and each Nik Needham or Kader Kohou on the nickel, could Miami variety a excessive secondary inside the NFL?
“I really feel just like the sky is the restrict for the secondary,” Howard talked about. “I don’t need to put nothing on the market proper now. We nonetheless should play, and we nonetheless should do coaching camp and preseason. There’s a variety of stuff that we’ve received to recover from.”