Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dolphins Place Guard Matt McChesney on IR, Promote LB Rob Ninkovich from Practice Squad

Just over a week after being promoted to the active roster and seeing his first NFL regular season action since 2005, the season has ended for guard Matt McChesney. The Dolphins placed McChesney on injured reserve today with a knee injury and have signed linebacker Rob Ninkovich from the practice squad to take McChesney's place on the roster.

Matt McChesney

An honorable mention All-Big 12 selection as a defensive tackle at Colorado, McChesney went undrafted in the 2005 NFL Draft and subsequently signed with the St. Louis Rams. He failed to make the team and was released following the preseason.

The New York Jets signed McChesney to their practice squad during the 2005 season and he eventually was promoted to the active roster, making his NFL debut in December and recording three tackles on the year.

McChesney was then moved to the offensive line and spent the next two years between reserve lists and the practice squad. The Jets eventually released him prior to the 2008 regular season and cut ties with him for good after a brief practice squad stint in September.

The Dolphins signed McChesney to the their practice squad on September 24, releasing tight end Drew Atchison to make room. He remained there until Nov. 7 when the Dolphins signed him to replace the recently waived Evan Mathis.

McChesney saw action in a reserve role against the Seattle Seahawks last week, replacing starting left guard Justin Smiley due to injury. Prior to being placed on I.R., McChesney had been listed as questionable for the team's Week 11 game against the Oakland Raiders.

McChesney is signed through 2009 at a base salary of $460,000.

Rob Ninkovich

As as senior at Purdue in 2005, Ninkovich earned second-team All-Big Ten honors after recording 48 tackles, eight sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Following his collegiate career, Ninkovich was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fifth round (135th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft. He led the team in sacks during the 2006 preseason with three but was lost for the year with a torn ACL three games into the regular season.

The following year, Ninkovich injured his knee in a July 2007 practice and missed the preseason. He was waived by the team prior to the regular season opener and claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 7.

Ninkovich went on to play in four games for the Dolphins in 2007, recording two tackles. He was inactive for 12 of the team's games, including 11 of the final 13 during the regular season.

In the 2008 preseason, Ninkovich tied defense end Randy Starks for a team-best two sacks. However after initially surviving final cuts, Ninkovich was waived on Aug. 31 to help make room for Miami's waiver claims (Andy Alleman, Nate Garner, Brandon London) and re-signed to the practice squad.

Ninkovich will wear No. 93, as he has since joining the team last year. The Dolphins now have an open spot on the practice squad which should be filled next week.

Analysis

Well that's what McChesney gets for taking Mike Byrne's number, isn't it?

This appears to be more of a "stashing" move when it comes to McChesney. The fourth-year guard had practiced some this week and was listed as questionable, making it hard to believe he was too hurt to get back in the field over the next six weeks.

The Dolphins likely felt like they had enough depth on the offensive line and enough young players they could try over the rest of the season, allowing them to stash McChesney on I.R. until next year's training camp, when he'll compete for a backup job.

As for Ninkovich, his addition to the active roster might actually be felt in a few areas. As a "bottom-of-the-roster" player, it seems likely that if he's active on game days it will be to play special teams. As we all know, this has been a huge sore spot for the Dolphins in 2008 and the team has made various roster moves in recent weeks in an attempt to solidify the unit.

That being said, Ninkovich could also end up seeing some time on defense. While he hasn't been able to get on the field much during the regular season in his career, he has recorded five sacks between during the '06 and '08 preseasons and, from what I could tell, looked quite promising during the exhibition games this year.

While Miami's pass rush is nothing to complain about, it's important to remember that over half the team's sacks (21) have been made by Joey Porter (12), while players like Matt Roth (just half a sack since Week 5) have failed to establish themselves as consistent producers in this area. Not to mention, can you ever really have too much pressure on the quarterback? (Answer: No.)

For those reasons, I feel like Ninkovich could be given a shot at becoming part of the outside linebacker rotation. While "Nink" will likely be asked to play special teams first, he's shown some pass-rushing skills and versatility at linebacker and, as we all know, those in charge of this team have shown time and time again that they'll play the players they feel give them the best chance to win regardless of background, draft status or contract.

CLICK HERE to see the my latest projected depth chart following these roster moves.