Last week, Miami Dolphins pass rusher Jaelan Phillips made news when he said in an interview that he is ahead of schedule in his rehab and that his goal is to be ready for opening day. That is encouraging news that Phillips is ahead of schedule, but he tore his Achilles tendon in late November. I know that Achilles tendon procedures have come a long way over the years, but everyone comes back from them differently. Some don’t come back the same or take longer to return. Last year, nickel back Nik Needham worked his way back from an Achilles tear in October 2022, and he finally started getting on the field late last season. It took him over a year, and maybe he will be a better player this year, more than a year removed from the injury. 

Phillips may be ahead of schedule, but he still has other hurdles. He must build back up the strength in his leg and calf muscles. He must also show that he is effective on the practice field, which is months away, to prepare for an actual game. 

The same can be said for Bradley Chubb, who tore his ACL at the end of the week 16 game in January against the Baltimore Ravens. Like an Achilles tendon tear, ACL tears have come a long way, but everyone recuperates differently.  Chubb has had an ACL tear before in his career, so he knows what he is up against. To think he would be ready to start the season on time after nine months isn’t impossible, but most likely not. 

The Dolphins need Chubb and Phillips, but they need them to take their time returning until they are ready to play. Before their injuries last year, they were becoming a dominant force for the defense, but this was a setback for the team. It would be wise for the Dolphins to start the season with both on the list of those who are physically unable to perform to keep them out at least the first month of the season.  

The Dolphins would be wise in next week’s NFL draft to consider drafting a pass rusher. You can never have enough pass rushers on defense. The NFL may be a passing league, but one thing to combat with is a string pass rush. On top of the Chubb and Phillips injuries, the Dolphins lost Andrew Van Ginkel in free agency, so there really is no depth whatsoever. Yes, they signed Shaq Barrett, but he’s 31 and on the downside of his career. How much can you expect from him?

Plus, it would be a good problem to have to bring in a younger pass rusher with potential and build back the depth on the defense. If a pass rusher, such as Laiatu Latu or Jared Verse, falls to the Dolphins at 21, they should consider picking them, assuming they stay at 21. 

The Dolphins must have a backup plan going into camp because the reality is they don’t know when Phillips and Chubb will be back. If they count on them coming back and don’t address the position in the draft, the team could be in serious trouble next year. 

Dane Brugler of The Athletic 7-Round Mock Draft has Miami Selecting…

Dane Brugler of The Athletic 7-Round Mock Draft has Miami Selecting