Miami Dolphins turn to a familiar face to fill COVID-19-created hole at wide receiver

Barry Jackson, Adam H. Beasley
·5 min read

Miami Beach High’s Ricardo Louis should finally get a chance to show what he can do for his hometown team.

The Dolphins on Saturday signed Louis for the third time in less than 20 months.

And this time, he will actually get a chance to participate in training camp practices.

Louis, who has not played since 2017 due to knee and neck injuries, is back on the roster just two weeks after the Dolphins cut him.

But when they released Louis prior to training camp, they had assumed they didn’t need him. That calculus changed when Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson elected to opt out over COVID-19 concerns.

That left the Dolphins without two of their top five receivers before practices even begin.

Louis was a Cleveland Browns fourth-round pick out of Auburn who caught 45 passes for 562 yards in 2016 and 2017. He appeared in all 16 games for the Browns in 2017, injuring his neck late in the season. The issue did not heal on its own, and Browns doctors deemed surgery was necessary in the summer of 2018.

He missed all of 2018 with the neck injury, joined the Dolphins in the spring of 2019, but then sustained a knee injury and missed all of last season. Miami re-signed him in the spring but released him last month.

New offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, asked Saturday if the Dolphins needed to sign a veteran receiver, responded:

“Watching film from last year, there’s obviously some talent on the field. They made a lot of big plays the last half of the season and it wasn’t just one or two. We all know about DeVante [Parker], but there were several people that made big plays during the course of the end of the season, so I think that we have a good group and I know that [Brian] Flores and the front office are always looking to upgrade because every position is going to be challenged this preseason. Nobody’s locked into anything, so we’re open to anything and everything and my job is to coach who shows up on the practice field and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Meanwhile, the Dolphins’ COVID-19 news got better Saturday, as they activated four more players off the newly formed reserve list: defensive tackles Raekwon Davis and Benito Jones, guard Solomon Kindley and wide receiver Kirk Merritt. That means 13 of the 14 Dolphins players who have gone on IR/COVID-19 since testing began have since been cleared to play. The only player still unavailable: guard Ereck Flowers, who has been on the list for a week.

One more bit of news: defensive tackle Ray Smith has decided to retire. The Dolphins had claimed him off waivers in late July.

Like many, Hurns wasn’t pleased with NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders’ tweet that seemed critical of the 67 NFL players who opted out of playing this season. Sanders on Friday tweeted this:

“All Players OPTING out in all sports PLEASE BELIEVE the game will go on without u. This is a business &don’t u EVER forget that. There’s NO ONE that’s bigger than the game itself. Only the ref, umps & officials are that important that u can’t play without them. NOT YOU! #Truth”

Responded Hurns on Twitter: “Dam [damn] you act like we said to cancel the season because we opted out. I want the season to go on and for it to be safe for all my brothers. I did what’s best for me and my situation, this ain’t got anything to do with nobody else. I’m at peace knowing I did what’s best for my family.”

TANNENBAUM WEIGHS IN

Mike Tannenbaum, the Dolphins’ former lead football executive and now an NFL studio analyst for ESPN, elicited uproarious laughter from former Jets guard Damien Woody on NFL Live on Friday when Tannenbaum declared that the Dolphins have the best defense in the AFC East.

Woody said Buffalo obviously does, but Tannenbaum held firm to his view, asserting there are two reasons why the Dolphins have the best defense in the division.

“You look at their secondary,” Tannenbaum said. “They can play man-to-man with anybody. They signed Byron Jones from the Dallas Cowboys. They have Xavien Howard. They have a guy like Bobby McCain, a former corner at safety. They can really match up and play man-to-man on the back end.

“And on the front end, I really like the versatility — Kyle Van Noy, former New England Patriot that Brian Flores brought down. Last year’s former first-round pick Christian Wilkins. They’re talented but they’re also versatile. They should be able to rush the passer and they can play man to man on the back end. And when you can do those two things, you should have a very good difference.”

Woody, after he finally stopped laughing, said: “Mike T, you saying that with a straight face right now? Better than the Buffalo Bills?Buffalo Bills second in the league last year! I know you live down in South Florida, Mike!”

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier is a member of the board of directors of the newly created National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches, NFL Network’s Jim Trotter reported this week.