Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dolphins waive FB Casey Cramer, Sign LB William Kershaw from Practice Squad

With starting inside linebacker Channing Crowder nursing a knee injury that has caused him to miss practice time this week, the Dolphins have added a little insurance to the roster by signing linebacker William Kershaw from the practice squad.

To make room for Kershaw on the active roster, the team waived fullback Casey Cramer. Signed in early September, Cramer had appeared in nine games for the Dolphins this season.

Casey Cramer

A tight end at Dartmouth, Cramer was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the seventh round (228th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. He failed to make the team following the preseason and later spent time on the practice squad of the Tennessee Titans following a brief stint with the New York Jets prior to the regular season.

In November 2004, Cramer was signed off the Titans' practice squad by the Carolina Panthers. He made his NFL debut that season and also saw action with the team late in the 2005 season after beginning the year on the practice squad.

Cramer was waived by the Panthers following the 2006 preseason and was claimed by the Tennessee Titans. He went on to spend the next two seasons with the team, appeared in 20 contests and recording two receptions for eight yards. The Titans waived him during final cuts on Aug. 30, 2008.

The Miami Dolphins signed Cramer on Sept. 9, 2008 after releasing starting fullback Boomer Grigsby just one game into the regular season. An ankle injury prevented Cramer from maintaining a grasp on the starting fullback job and his signed replacement, former Dallas Cowboy Lousaka Polite, remained the starter upon Cramer's return.

Cramer appeared in nine games for the Dolphins this season including two starts, catching two passes for three yards. He scored his first NFL touchdown on a two-yard pass from quarterback Chad Pennington against the New England Patriots on Nov. 23.

William Kershaw

A North Carolina native, Kershaw played college football at Maryland and was a two-year starter. His 76 tackles as a senior in 2005 were second-best among Maryland linebackers behind only D'Qwell Jackson. Kershaw also recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and one interception on the season.

Undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft, Kershaw was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent on May 1. He spent most of his rookie season on the Chiefs' practice squad before being activated prior to the regular season finale. He made his NFL regular season debut against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 31. The following week, he recorded three tackles in a playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Kershaw appeared in the Chiefs' 2007 regular season opener but did not record any stats. and was subsequently waived on Sept. 20. The Philadelphia Eagles added him to their practice squad on Oct. 30, where he remained until the Houston Texans signed him to their active roster on Nov. 28. He appeared in one game for the Texans before being released Dec. 18. He finished the season back on the Eagles' practice squad.

In February 2008, Kershaw signed a contract with the Denver Broncos. He was waived by the Broncos on Apr. 28 and signed by the New Orleans Saints a month later. Kershaw appeared in three preseason games for the Saints in 2008 including one start, recording 10 tackles and a sack. He was released during final cuts on Aug. 30. The Saints briefly re-signed him to the practice squad on Sept. 25 only to release him again on Oct. 8.

Kershaw was signed to the Dolphins' practice squad on Oct. 14, replacing linebacker Marc Magro. He wears No. 58, which was previously worn by linebacker Kelvin Smith, who is currently on injured reserve.

Analysis

To be honest, I'm surprised it took this long for Cramer to be released. He was basically handed the starting fullback job after being signed in early September but the ankle injury cost him dearly.

Replacement Lousaka Polite has been solid filling in for Cramer and now has a somewhat firm grasp on the starting gig. Combine that with the fact that the organization isn't keen on keeping multiple fullbacks and it's simply no surprise to see Cramer let go.

This isn't a real loss for the Dolphins because Cramer was hardly a contributor. He was a solid special teams player with six tackles the year, but Polite outplayed him at fullback. His departure might also signal that the team likes what they've seen from rookie Chris Brown, who was signed to the practice squad earlier this month.

As for Kershaw, he's really nothing more than an insurance policy and is still unlikely to see much (if any) time on defense against Kansas City today if he's even active at all.

Despite Crowder being limited this week in practice and missing some time altogether, Channing Crowder expects to play in his usual spot alongside Akin Ayodele. Even if Crowder were unable to go, Kershaw would certainly not be first in line to replace him. Reggie Torbor is the No. 3 inside linebacker right now, and if it got beyond him due to injuries I'd expect Charlie Anderson to kick inside before Kershaw comes in.

If Kershaw does dress against the Chiefs he'll likely be limited solely to special teams. It's unlikely he'll stand out even there, as he's been with six organizations over the past three seasons and has yet to secure an extended gig on an active roster even as a special teamer.

Kershaw has good measurables (6-3, 24o) for a 3-4 inside 'backer, but is going to be out of practice squad eligibility soon. Given that he's failed to secure a role with a team on the active roster in nearly three years, it seems unlikely Kershaw ever has a substantial NFL career. If he ever does, it will likely be limited to special teams.