Popping up on the injury report for the Dolphins this week were star cornerbacks, Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. They are both listed as questionable for Sunday’s game but are expected to play. But they may be limited to some point due to their injuries.
This sets up 3rd year cornerback Nik Needham for a big opportunity this week. He has already done very good things this year, and it is clear that he is the Dolphins best slot corner.
With Needham exceeding expectations, it has been a rough time for Noah Igbinoghene. He has been a healthy scratch a couple times this year, and it looks like Needham is the young corner that the Dolphins would prefer to have out there.
Needham has been great in coverage this year. He has made it a hard time for opposing quarterbacks to complete their passes. According to pff, he has an overall grade of 69.4 which is actually higher than Jones’s grade of 66.8 and just slightly below Howard’s grade of 71.
In fact, Needham is ranked as the 24th best corner so far this year out of 103 according to pff. He has been a key part to why this Dolphins secondary is the strongest part of the defense.
Needham will have his hands full on Sunday when trying to help shut down the trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown. It will be very interesting to see how he does, and Needham is someone who the Buccaneers need to account for.