Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Safety Culver rids into Miami; Mauia finds a new gig

The Dolphins swapped one former Packer for another yesterday, releasing cornerback Joey Thomas and signing Tyrone Culver. The 25-year-old Culver had been released by the Packers during final cuts.

Background

A third-round pick by the Packers in 2004, Thomas has also played for the New Orleans Saints and attended training camp with the Dallas Cowboys last year. In Miami, Thomas intercepted a Cleo Lemon pass in the preseason and initially survived final cuts as the fifth cornerback over Will Billingsley.

In 49 games at Fresno State, the 6-1, 210-pound Culver recorded 199 tackles, three sacks and four interceptions. Drafted by the Packers in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft, he appeared in 14 games as a rookie and recorded nine tackles and one pass deflection. After spending all of the 2007 season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, Culver tied for fourth in the team in the 2008 preseason with 15 tackles. He lost the backup free safety job to Charlie Peprah and was released on Aug. 30 during final cuts.

Analysis

Thomas had a solid preseason but he was never entirely secure on the roster, so it's not too surprising to see him cut here. He could be brought back if the Dolphins needed corner help, but three of their safeties (Chris Crocker, Jason Allen, Renaldo Hill) have plenty of corner experience so having four won't be a huge issue. Thomas has been a disappointment since entering the league as a third-rounder and might not have much of a future in the league beyond camp body/potential backup.

I see the Culver signing as a solid but not entirely significant one. Culver doesn't have great speed but he's extremely smart and has been called a "coach on the field." A solid all-around player, he'll probably start off on special teams but could push first-round disappointment Jason Allen for playing time eventually. Allen lost the starting free safety gig to Chris Crocker in the preseason and will likely be working primarily on special teams himself.

Mauia inks with Bengals

In former Dolphins news, recently released fullback Reagan Mauia was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals. The team's starting fullback, Jeremi Johnson, was placed on injured reserve the same day. Mauia will initially back up Daniel Coats for Cincinnati, though if he could ever become more consistent and utilize his physical tools he could be something more. He's a pure blocker and not a threat with the ball in any way.