Miami Dolphins placing rookie WR Jaylen Waddle on COVID-19 list

MIAMI -- The Dolphins placed wide receiver Jaylen Waddle on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday, their fifth player to go on the list in the past week.

Waddle joins running backs Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Phillip Lindsay, and safety Jevon Holland on Miami's reserve/COVID-19 list. The team decided Wednesday to implement hybrid precautionary measures after Thursday's walk-through practice, holding position meetings in large spaces when available and opting to hold team meetings virtually. Certain position groups also met virtually when a large meeting space was not available.

The NFL on Thursday relaxed the testing requirements to clear vaccinated people, potentially clearing the players on the list for a faster return.

The team had been relatively healthy in terms of contracting COVID-19 and hadn't had any positive results since Austin Jackson and Adam Shaheen in Week 1.

The Dolphins' latest additions to the COVID-19 list come during a widespread outbreak throughout the league that has seen more than 100 positive tests this week.

"You definitely see things ramping up now," Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said. "We've definitely been pretty cautious this whole time and we try to do all we can to make sure everybody is healthy and safe. There is nothing more important than the health and safety of this team. It's something that we mention, we hear and we see around, so maybe guys are a little more cautious and things like that."

The Dolphins' first-round pick in 2021 at No. 6 overall, Waddle leads the team in receptions and receiving yards, and he set a franchise record for receptions by a rookie. He currently has 849 yards and 4 touchdowns on 86 receptions -- 15 away from tying an NFL rookie record set by Anquan Boldin in 2003. He has been one of the most productive receivers in the league during the Dolphins' five-game winning streak dating back to Week 9, ranking 10th in the NFL in receiving yards in that span and seventh in receptions, even with Miami's Week 14 bye.

If Waddle is unable to play Sunday against the New York Jets, it would leave the Dolphins without their starting running back, wide receiver and free safety in a game they need to win to keep their playoff hopes afloat. Coach Brian Flores said the team has discussed being smart and safe with "every decision they make" and understanding that we are still in a pandemic, despite a sense of normalcy in some areas.

Safety Eric Rowe said nobody really goes out during the season but they understand to wear a mask whenever they are out.

"It doesn't matter if you're a high-profile athlete or somebody working in an office job, COVID does not discriminate. It does not matter," Rowe said. "Whether it's high profile or you're just the average person working, you should be cautious. Right now with COVID, you can be selfish thinking I have to go out there and play, which we all want to compete but we have to think about the greater good. If I spread it to a teammate and maybe he spreads it to his wife then spreads it to their little child, you don't know how that child will be affected, right?

"It's more than just sports."