Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dolphins Add Safety Condren and Fullback Polite

The Dolphins have made two new signings to their active roster this week, including one that might start as early as this Sunday. In addition to second-year safety Brannon Condren, the Dolphins added former Cowboys and Bears fullback Lousaka Polite, who may replaced injured starter Casey Cramer against the Baltimore Ravens.

Released to make room for the two were safety Tyrone Culver and offensive tackle Kirk Barton. A seventh-round pick by the Chicago Bears in 2008, Barton likely would have been signed to the practice squad but was claimed by the San Francisco 49ers.

Brannon Condren

A Fort Walton Beach native, Condren started 25 of the 47 games in which he played at Troy, recording 175 tackles (138 solo), one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, 10 tackles for losses, 11 passes defensed and two interceptions. At his Pro Day in April 2007, he posted a forty-yard dash time of 4.47 seconds and did 24 bench reps of 225 pounds.

Condren (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round (131st overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft. He misses most of the preseason with a groin injury and was inactive for the first four games of the regular season before making his NFL debut against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 7. Active for eight games while starting none his rookie season, Condren finished the year with five tackles (three solo).

Condren appeared in all five games for the Colts during the 2008 preseason, recording 26 tackles, two pass deflections and two interceptions (both in a game against the Atlanta Falcons). He was waived during final cuts on August 30.

After being let go by the Colts, Condren was claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Rams on August 31. Serving as the backup free safety to Oshiomogho Atogwe, Condren was inactive for the Rams' first four games of the regular season before being waived on October 10.

Four days after his release from the Rams, the Dolphins signed Condren to a two-year contract. He will wear No. 28, which was most recently worn by safety Keith Davis in training camp.

Lousaka Polite

A three-year captain at Pittsburgh, Polite finished his collegiate career with 657 rushing yards and four touchdowns while adding 59 receptions for 485 yards and two touchdowns.

Signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2004, Polite was released prior to the regular season and spent time on the team's practice squad before being activated for the regular season finale. He made his NFL debut against the New York Giants on January 2, 2005, catching one pass for four yards.

Over the next two season, Polite appeared in 26 games for the Cowboys and recorded 26 rushing yards, 93 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.

Polite was waived by the Cowboys prior to the 2007 regular season and claimed off waivers by the Chicago Bears on September 5. He appeared in five games for the Bears as the backup to starter Jason McKie, though he did not have a rush or reception. He was released by the Bears during final cuts in 2008.

Polite was signed to a two-year contract by the Dolphins on October 16. His signing gives the Dolphins a backup fullback to starter Casey Cramer. Polite will wear No. 36.

Condren Analysis

Though he was a fourth-round pick by the Colts just a year ago, Condren played little defense in his career and doesn't possess much play-making ability there.

Condren's addition is almost a purely a special teams one. Just as with the player he is replacing (Tyrone Culver), Condren is being brought in to help bolster a special teams unit that has felt Tony Sparano's wrath in recent weeks.

However, Condren was unable to even dress for one of the worst teams in the NFL (the Rams) this season, so it seems unlikely he'll have a huge impact. As with most of the special teams signing the Dolphins have made lately, his roster spot his not safe.

Polite Analysis

Neither addition is a huge signing, but seeing as how Polite could start this week there will be some immediate impact here.

Though not much of a ball carrier, Polite is a good receiver, solid blocker and a contributor on special teams. He was picked up by Bill Parcells in Dallas in 2004 and spent three seasons with the organization, so he has plenty of experience with many of the Dolphins' staff.

With starting fullback Casey Cramer out for the Ravens game with an ankle injury, Polite will likely see time on offense less than a week after his signing. As strong as Miami's offensive line and running game have been this season, there likely won't be a huge drop-off with Polite replacing Cramer.

However, while he may be the team's lone healthy fullback, the Dolphins will likely do different things to avoid having him out there constantly in an offense he's only been in for three days. Don't be surprised to see plenty of two-tight end sets and further use of the wildcat formation, both of which alleviate the need for a fullback and have already been used extensively.

Polite may be a fine fill-in, but his stay on the Dolphins' roster might not be a lengthy one. The team prefers to keep one fullback, and if the Dolphins had preferred Polite to Cramer earlier in the year, they would have just signed Polite last month instead.