Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard reports to training camp despite unhappiness with contract

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard defused some drama from the start of the Miami Dolphins' training camp by showing up for work.

Howard joined the rest of the Dolphins reporting Tuesday after he sat out mandatory minicamp because he's unhappy with the $75.25 million, five-year extension he signed two years ago. There had been speculation he might hold out.

"We're excited to work with X and all the players that are here," coach Brian Flores said. "There are a lot of things that are good with having him here."

Last year, Howard had 10 interceptions, the most in the NFL since 2007. He also led the league with 20 passes defended.

"X is a key guy on our defense, and not just a key guy, a great guy to be around," linebacker Jerome Baker said. "We're definitely happy to see him back."

Howard is apparently unhappy that's Miami's other starting cornerback, Byron Jones, has a bigger contract -- an $82.5 million, five-year deal signed last year.

Flores declined to talk about any negotiations or trade possibilities regarding Howard.

"Those conversations, like always, are going to be internal and confidential," Flores said. "But we're excited to have him. I'm excited to work with him. He's a great player."

Flores said all 90 players on the roster reported for conditioning tests at the Dolphins' new $135 million training camp next to their stadium.

"It is like the first day back to school," said Flores, beginning his third year with the team. The Dolphins doubled their win total to 10 last year but missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

Flores declined to say how many of his players have received the COVID-19 vaccine, and said he will not pressure unvaccinated players.

"Everyone has their own personal reasoning and beliefs behind getting vaccinated or not," he said. "I respect everyone's choice in that matter. I'm not going to pressure anyone. I'm just going to give them the information. I'm not going to judge anyone's commitment to the team."

Player representative Christian Wilkins echoed that sentiment.

"It's up to every guy what they want to do," said Wilkins, a defensive tackle. "You've got to respect people's opinions to do things or not do things."

While the Dolphins had perfect attendance on reporting day, receiver Preston Williams remains slowed by a foot injury that forced him to miss the final eight games of 2020. He'll begin camp on the physically unable to perform list and spend a lot of time in the new state-of-the-art training room.

Several players praised the new team complex, which also includes two outdoor practice fields, an indoor field, lounge areas, two auditoriums, a barber shop, a place for darts, and 209 televisions.

"It means our organization cares about us," Baker said. "It's giving us all the tools to do well, and we appreciate that. It's cool to say we have the newest facility in the NFL."

The practice fields will get their first test Wednesday.

"Last year's touchdowns aren't going to do anything for us," Wilkins said. "We've got to start over and put the work in."