With two practice squad vacancies to fill after two of their players were signed away by other teams, the Dolphins re-signed rookie offensive tackle Daren Heerspink to their practice squad. Miami also brought in a fresh face in rookie fullback Chris Brown, formerly of the Jaguars.
A starter during his last two-and-a-half years at Portland State and a two-time second-team All-Big Sky selection, Heerspink (6-6, 315) was originally signed by the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent on April 28, 2008.
Heerspink worked exclusively at right tackle during training camp and appeared in all four preseason games for the Dolphins. He was waived by the team during final cuts on Aug. 30. After a brief stint on the practice squad, the Dolphins released Heerspink on Sept. 12 and he has since been a free agent.
Heerspink will once again wear No. 67 in Miami, which he wore during training camp and the preseason.
A tight end at Tennessee, Brown increased his production each of his four seasons, culminating with 41 catches for 282 yards and six touchdowns (all career-highs) as a senior in 2007. His six receiving scores tied him for first on the Volunteers. Brown finished his collegiate career with 92 catches for 736 yards and eight touchdowns.
After going undrafted in the 2008 NFL Draft, Brown signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent. He played in all four games for the Jaguars during the 2008 preseason, catching one pass for seven yards while rushing for five yards and at touchdown on two carries. However, he was unable to make the Jaguars' final roster and was waived on Aug. 30.
Brown was re-signed to the Jaguars' practice squad a day later and remained there until he was released on Nov. 26. He initially worked out for the Dolphins on Nov. 28 (the same day as center Al Johnson) but was not signed.
Brown will wear No. 28 for the Dolphins, which was previously worn by safety Keith Davis during the preseason. (And the Great Travis Minor once upon a time.) Both Heerspink and Brown will earn roughly $5,200 a week on the practice squad.
To be completely honest, there isn't much to get excited about here. You have to wonder about a guy when he goes months without being picked up by another team like Heerspink did. The fact he wasn't able to land on an NFL practice squad (or even a CFL practice squad, for that matter) speaks volumes about his potential (or lack thereof) as a prospect. My money is on him never having much of an NFL career.
One advantage about Heerspink is that he knows the offense, but then again that doesn't do much good if he's not talented enough to be used in a game. He'll likely continue to work at right tackle behind Vernon Carey and Nate Garner, although it would take much more than those two going down for Heerspink to get on the active roster and into a game.
As for Brown, I'm intrigued by his potential as a fullback. You knew he wasn't going to be a tight end in Miami at just 6-0 and 240 pounds. (Take a look at Miami's current tight ends to see what I mean.) However, as a college tight end he does have some receiving ability and the Dolphins are all about versatility at fullback.
That being said, Brown is also not close to seeing the field. The Dolphins are happy with the way Lousaka Polite is playing and Casey Cramer is a serviceable backup. Even if Brown were to get on the active roster (which seems unlikely as a a newcomer this late in the season) he'd focus on special teams initially.
Realistically, both Heerspink and Brown are auditioning for future contracts in 2009 at this point. Both could potentially get them, though it's a long way from January to the preseason and they could be cut at any time.