Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dolphins Re-Sign Safety Bryan, Release Safety Brannon Condren

Looking to shore up a struggling special teams unit, the Dolphins have brought back a familiar face by re-signing second-year safety Courtney Bryan. Released to make room for Bryan on the roster was safety Brannon Condren, who had spent four games with the Dolphins after coming over from St. Louis.

Brannon Condren

A two-year starter at Troy, Condren was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round (131st overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. He split his rookie season between the practice squad and active roster, appearing in 8 games (no starts) and recording five tackles.

Despite a two-interception preseason with the Colts in 2008, Condren was released by the team during final cuts on Aug. 30.

Condren was subsequently claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Rams. However, he was inactive every game with the team and eventually waived on Oct. 10 to make room for wide receiver Derek Stanley.

Condren was signed by the Dolphins on October 14 after the team waived safety Tyrone Culver. He appeared in four games for the Dolphins, recording three special teams tackles, before being waived on Nov. 10.

Courtney Bryan

Originally signed by the Dolphins under Cam Cameron as an undrafted free agent out of New Mexico State in 2007, Bryan made the Dolphins out of training camp as a backup safety and special teams player.

Bryan went on to appear in 12 games as a rookie, recording 11 tackles. He primarily played on special teams but saw some extended time on defense later in the season due to mounting injuries.

Bryan appeared in all four preseason games for the Dolphins in the 2008 under new head coach Tony Sparano, recording nine tackles (all solo) and a pass deflection. However, he was released at the conclusion of the preseason as the Dolphins picked up Tyrone Culver from the Green Bay Packers.

Bryan rejoins the Dolphins having been a free agent since the 2008 preseason. He will primarily work on special teams and will again don his old No. 47.

Analysis

This move is purely a special teams one and Bryan is unlikely to see time on defense barring a few injuries. He's got experience as both safety positions but probably doesn't have much of a future in the NFL beyond that of a backup and special teamer.

For those of you were wondering why Bryan hasn't been on a practice squad this season, his time with Miami in 2007 made him ineligible for practice squad gigs.

The Dolphins continue to shuffle special teams players, looking to get the most efficient group they can with what other teams have discarded. The unit has been a sore spot for the Dolphins this season, as indicates by the following numbers:
  • Miami's KR average: 19.7 (32nd)
  • Miami's PR average: 8.6 (20th)
  • Opponent's KR average: 28.0 (32nd)
  • Opponent's PR average: (14.3) (31st)
Those ranks say it all. Miami is dead last in the NFL in both kick return average and opponent's kick return average. The former is due in part to Davone Bess beginning the season as kick returner, and the Dolphins' average should go up with the much more electric Ted Ginn, Jr. taking over the job.

As you can see, this is definitely an area that needs improvement and that is vital for any playoff run for which fans are hoping. Field position is a huge aspect of football and the Dolphins cannot afford to continue allowing opponents to begin drives with such good field position.

Condren wasn't the lone reason for Miami's special teams struggles, just as Bryan is not the lone savior. Bryan's place on the roster is not at all secure and the Dolphins will continue to shuffle these bottom-of-the-roster types until they can find a productive special teams unit.