Saturday, September 27, 2008

Week 4 game predictions

After an awful week in Week 2 when I got only six right, I at least rebounded somewhat with 11 right last week. Of course, I did miss the Dolphins pick for the third straight week, as last week was the first time I'd picked them to lose this season. I can't win there.

Last week's record: 11-5
Season record: 26-21

Note: I changed my pick from Cincinnati to Cleveland prior to Sunday's games due to Carson Palmer's injury.

Browns over Bengals - The Browns have their problems, but Derek Anderson should be able to outplay a Bengals team that will be without Carson Palmer.

Packers over Buccaneers - In the Battle of the Bays, I think the one from up north is simply the better team.

Panthers over Falcons - The Panthers will rebound from their first loss of the season.

Titans over Vikings - A tough game to call because you don't know which Minnesota team will show up, but Tennessee is very good right now and better at quarterback than they've been in a few years.

Jaguars over Texans - Houston's quarterback situation is messy and the Jaguars are the better team.

Broncos over Chiefs - They're playing the Chiefs. Enough said.

Saints over 49ers - The Saints played the Broncos well last week and I see them winning the shootout this time around.

Jets over Cardinals - A tough pick between two good offenses, so I have to go with the home team.

Chargers over Raiders - I just can't see the Raiders' offense keeping up.

Bills over Rams - The Bills made it close last week against Oakland, but they'd have no excuse for losing to St. Louis.

Cowboys over Redskins - Divisional games like this are always tough, but Dallas is playing as well as anyone right now.

Eagles over Bears - Not to go all Joe Morgan on you, but I don't think the Bears are consistent enough to beat the Eagles.

Steelers over Ravens - The Steelers rebound on Monday night against the rookie Joe Flacco.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dolphins sign TE Haynos, waive RB Parmele; make practice squad moves

Despite dominating the New England Patriots in Week 3, the Dolphins continue to shuffle their roster leading into their bye week. On the active roster, the team waived rookie running back Jalen Parmele and signed tight end Joey Haynos off the practice squad of the Green Bay Packers.

Additionally, the Dolphins released tight end Drew Atchison and cornerback Will Billingsley from their practice squad. Former Jets guard Matt McChesney was added to the practice squad yesterday, while Parmele was re-signed to the practice squad today after clearing waivers.

Joey Haynos

An undrafted free agent out of Maryland, Haynos caught five passes for 51 yards with the Packers during the 2008 preseason. However, he lost out to third-round pick Jermichael Finley for the No. 3 tight end job and was waived at the end of the preseason. (Haynos was not necessarily outplayed, as it was reported that the only thing saving Finley from being cut was his draft status.) Haynos was re-signed to the practice squad the following day and spent the first three weeks of the regular season there.

Haynos gives the Dolphins three tight ends for the second time this season. The team initially carried three to begin the season with Sean Ryan filling that spot for the season opener before being waived on September 12. (For the record, Ryan has since signed with the Saints.) The Dolphins went with two tight ends against the Cardinals and Patriots.

Because Haynos was signed off the Packers' practice squad, he must remain on the Dolphins' active roster for the next three weeks. He will serve as the No. 3 tight end behind Anthony Fasano and David Martin and will wear No. 81, which was previously worn by a tight end the Dolphins should never have released.

As far as a scouting report goes, Haynos has excellent size (6-foot-8, 270 pounds) with good hands (his 30 receptions were second most on the Terps in 2007.) He's a solid blocker but needs to refine his technique and get more experience.

Practice squad moves

As expected, the Dolphins re-signed Parmele to their practice squad a day after waiving him. It's little surprise to see Parmele cut here, as the rookie sixth-rounder was inactive for the team's first three games of the season and buried on the depth chart behind Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and Patrick Cobbs.

Parmele is a strong candidate to be promoted to the active roster at some point this season, regardless of injury to other backs. The Dolphins now have two running backs on the practice squad as Parmele joins fellow sixth-rounder Lex Hilliard, who has been on the practice squad since the regular season began.

To make room for Parmele, the Dolphins released cornerback Will Billingsley from the practice squad. Billingsley was the obvious odd man out in a six-man race for the five cornerback spots in the preseason. He could be re-signed to the practice squad at some point, but isn't close to getting on an active roster.

New to the organization is practice squad guard Matt McChesney. He replaces tight end Drew Atchison on the practice squad, who was signed last week but became expendable with the addition of a third tight end (Haynos) to the active roster.

A converted defensive tackle, the 26-year-old McChesney was signed by the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent out of Colorado in 2005 but did not make the team. He was signed to the Jets' practice squad late during the 2005 season and promoted to the active roster in December, seeing action in three games and recording three tackles.

In 2006, the Jets converted McChesney to the offensive line and began working him at guard. He spent the 2006 season on the practice squad and was an All-NFL Europa selection for the Frankfurt Galaxy during the 2007 offseason. McChesney spent the 2007 season on the NFL Europa Non-Football Injury list and was waived by the Jets at the conclusion of the preseason in 2008.

McChesney is a project and has never seen an NFL active roster since moving to the offensive line. As the Dolphins currently have 10 offensive lineman, there's no guarantee McChesney sees the active roster any time soon. He will wear No. 60 in practice, which was worn by offensive lineman Mike Byrne during camp.

2008 Week 3 Recap: Dolphins at Patriots

Offense & Special Teams



Defense

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rodney Harrison calls Ricky Williams' block "dirty"

I plan on having a recap video up here either today or tomorrow, but I just had to post this. Apparently, the block Ricky Williams made on Mike Vrabel during Ronnie Brown's 62-yard touchdown run is being called a dirty play by Rodney Harrison. Unbelievable. Harrison is easily the dirtiest player in the NFL, and has the audacity to call Williams dirty for what I consider a damn good block? Ridiculous.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Week 3 Game Predictions

I'm back once again to do my NFL game predictions, despite by ridiculously embarrassing performance picking games last week. I'm out to prove that was a fluke!

Last week's record: 6-9
Season record: 15-16

Falcons over Chiefs - The Falcons came back down to earth last week after their Week 1 win, but they shouldn't have a hard time handling the lowly Chiefs.

Patriots over Dolphins - Note to self: never pick Miami again you moron.

Bills over Raiders - As much as I hate to admit it, the 2-0 Bills are good. Plus, the Raiders are their easiest opponent yet.

Giants over Bengals - If I had a nickel for every time the Bengals burned me after I picked them over the last few years...I'd have close to a dollar. You have to figure Carson Palmer and Co. will turn it around, but not against the defending Super Bowl champs.

Buccaneers over Bears - The Bears blew a big lead against Carolina last week and I don't see them rebounding.

Titans over Texans - Another week without Vince Young, another good chance to win.

Redskins over Cardinals - Not to take anything away from Arizona, but the Dolphins were just awful last week. The Redskins provide a much more formidable opponent.

Panthers over Vikings - The undefeated Panthers get Steve Smith back against the winless Vikings.

Broncos over Saints - The Broncos are playing great right now, and the Saints just aren't playing up to their potential.

Lions over 49ers - Stopping Frank Gore will be tough, but the Niners are still a poor team and the Lions should be able to beat them.

Seahawks over Rams - I wouldn't pick the Rams to beat USC right now.

Eagles over Steelers - An absolutely outstanding matchup and complete toss-up.

Colts over Jaguars - The Jaguars always make it a game, but I think the Colts continue to build momentum.

Browns over Ravens - I can't think of anything to say about this one. So I didn't.

Cowboys over Packers - Another excellent matchup and a tough call, but I predict the Cowboys continue to roll.

Chargers over Jets - Even if LT can't play, the Chargers should secure their first win against the Jets.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Week 2 Game Predictions

These are my Week 2 game predictions. Hence the title. And the following content.

Last week's record: 9-7
Season record: 9-7

Packers over Lions - Detroit got manhandled by a poor Atlanta team in Week 1, and Green Bay is a lot better.

Saints over Redskins - I don't think Jason Campbell can keep up with the Saints' offense, even minus Marques Colston.

Chiefs over Raiders - What an awful matchup. It's a toss-up between two bad teams, but Oakland just looked too bad on Monday night to justify picking.

Bears over Panthers - A tough matchup between two teams that upset better ones in Week 1. I saw Matt Forte carries the Bears to another win.

Giants over Rams - The Rams aren't even a shadow of their former selves and Eli Manning should have a field day.

Jaguars over Bills - Yes, I'm sorely underrating the Bills. Screw it.

Colts over Vikings - a tough matchup between teams with different strengths, but I can't see Peyton dropping two games in a row.

Bengals over Titans - Kerry Collins might actually be an upgrade for Tennessee, but I'm predicting the Bengals rebound.

Falcons over Buccaneers - Do I believe Atlanta is for real? Not necessarily. That said, I'm not impressed with Tampa Bay either and their quarterback situation is shaky.

Seahawks over 49ers - I don't care if every receiver the Seahawks have is injured, there is no reason to lose to the J.T. O'Sullivan-led Niners.

Chargers over Broncos - What an awesome divisional matchup. Denver plays absolutely great in Week 1 and the Chargers lost to a team they should have beaten, but I think San Diego pulls it out.

Patriots over Jets - I don't care who the quarterback is, the Patriots are the better team. The Jets weren't that impressive against a bad team in Week 1.

Dolphins over Cardinals - Biased? Absolutely. If the matchup is close enough, then I can't help but pick my team. The Dolphins' shaky secondary will have to keep Arizona's wideouts in check to do it though and that will not be easy.

Steelers over Browns - Cleveland's a good team, but Pittsburgh is better.

Cowboys over Eagles - An absolutely outstanding matchup and a complete toss-up. I'm going with Dallas but really it's 50/50.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

TE Atchison signed to practice squad, T Heerspink released

The same day the team added offensive lineman Kirk Barton to the active roster off waivers, the Dolphins made a practice squad move by signing tight end Drew Atchison and releasing offensive tackle Daren Heerspink.

An undrafted rookie out of Portland State, Heerspink worked at tackle for the Dolphins in the preseason but was waived during final cuts. He spent the first week of the regular season on the practice squad.

Background

Atchison, 23, caught 34 passes for 475 yards and a team-high six touchdowns as a senior at William & Mary. He was selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game following the season.

The 6-foot-6, 255-pound Atchison was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. He played in all four preseason games for the Cowboys, catching two passes for 24 yards in the finale against Minnesota.

Atchison was waived by the Cowboys during final cuts on August 30 and was a free agent until being signed by Miami on September 11. He will wear No. 46 in Miami, vacated by recently released fullback Boomer Grigsby.

Analysis

Although Atchison came from the Cowboys, there's no direct connection to the Dolphins' organization since he only arrived in Dallas in April. Still, it makes sense that both organizations have interest in similar players. Atchison isn't blessed with great athleticism, but he's a very smart player and has prototypical tight end size.

With the release of tight end Sean Ryan, Atchison is currently the third tight end in the organization after active roster players Anthony Fasano and David Martin. Of course, fullback Casey Cramer also has tight end experience and Atchison lacks NFL experience of any kind so he might not be close to joining the active roster. His status on the team is day by day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

OT Barton claimed from Bears, TE Ryan released

The Dolphins added more depth to their offensive line today, claiming rookie offensive tackle Kirk Barton off waivers from the Chicago Bears. To make room for Barton on the roster, the team released tight end Sean Ryan.

Sean Ryan

A fifth-round pick by the Cowboys out of Boston College in 2004, Ryan played two seasons in Dallas before being traded to the New York Jets prior to the 2006 season. He played for the Jets through the 2007 season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2008. During his first four NFL seasons, Ryan played in 35 games and caught nine passes for 90 yards.

After being signed by the Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent in February, Ryan beat out Justin Peelle for the Dolphins' third tight end spot. He played in the team's season opener against the Jets on September 7.

Kirk Barton

The latest addition to the Dolphins' offensive line, Barton was drafted by the Bears in the seventh round (247th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. A first-team All-Big Ten selection as a senior in 2007, Barton was a four-year starter at right tackle for the Buckeyes.

Barton signed a four-year contract with the Bears on May 30. He made the team out of training camp and was serving as the Bears' backup right tackle behind starter John Tait. Barton made his NFL debut in a reserve role against the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener, but was waived this past week after the team re-signed veteran tackle Fred Miller.

The Dolphins were reportedly the only team to claim Barton, who likely would have been re-signed to the Bears' practice squad if he had cleared waivers. He will wear No. 76 for the Dolphins, which was worn by lineman Steve McKinney during the preseason.

Analysis

The loss of Ryan isn't much of a loss at all and it really isn't a move of any consequence. He's a pure blocking tight end who was the No. 3 guy behind David Martin and Anthony Fasano and therefore wasn't going to see much time on offense. Recent addition Casey Cramer also has tight end experience and would likely play on the line in three-tight end sets. Ryan could be brought back at a later date if needed.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Barton lacks elite athleticism, he's got good strength, intelligence and sound fundamentals and footwork. He may project as more of a No. 3 tackle than a starter.

Dolphins fans shouldn't get too excited about this addition, as Barton was on the roster bubble in Chicago and might not ever develop into a starter. To be honest, while he was serving as the backup right tackle in Chicago it would not surprise me one bit to see him shifted inside to guard. He might be more suited inside and as Nate Garner is currently backing up Vernon Carey at right tackle the move could give Barton a chance to compete at the right guard spot vacated by the injury Donald Thomas. It would not surprise me to see Barton backing up Evan Mathis, who I feel will eventually win the starting right guard job over Ike Ndukwe.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

G Thomas placed on IR; FB Grigsby waived; FB Cramer and OL Mathis signed

Just one week into the regular season, the Dolphins have lost their first significant player of the year in rookie guard Donald Thomas. The 2008 sixth-rounder was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury suffered against the Jets. Meanwhile, the Dolphins added former Panthers guard Evan Mathis to replace him and swapped Boomer Grigsby for Casey Cramer at fullback.

In order to keep things organized, I'm going to separate this article into a Thomas/Mathis section and a Grigsby/Cramer section. I think it epic, life-changing organization.

Thomas/Mathis

One of the best stories coming out of camp, the raw but talented Donald Thomas ran away with the team's right guard job despite being a sixth-round pick. He took over the job early in camp and never looked back, while rookie fourth-rounder Shawn Murphy was on the roster bubble all the way through the preseason.

Thomas suffered an ankle injury early in the team's Week 1 contest against the New York Jets but was able to play through the pain. Though he was on crutches and wearing a protective boot Monday, Thomas said it was just precautionary and expressed optimism not only about playing in Week 2 but practicing by Wednesday. However, a Scout.com report late Monday night reported that Thomas could be lost for the season and that proved accurate the following day when he was officially placed on injured reserve.

I spoke to Donald and while he was understandably disappointed, he expressed confidence he'd be back next year healthy and competing. Unfortunately, he was unable to elaborate on why he seemed so optimistic about the injury just a day before it ended his season; it certainly was an interesting series of events. Thomas has a bright future ahead of him and it's disappointing to see him suffer such a setback this early in his career.

This is an unfortunate blow to a Dolphins offensive line that is sorely lacking depth. Ike Ndukwe will reportedly step in at right guard, though I suspect this might not last. Ndukwe has been serving as the backup left tackle (though he actually could back up every position) and I don't really consider him starter material. I wouldn't be surprised to see rookie fourth-rounder Shawn Murphy, recent waiver claim Andy Alleman or the newly signed Evan Mathis - all of whom have more upside than Ndukwe - eventually push for the job. Mathis, in particular, is intriguing and is the most likely given that Murphy is backing up left guard and Alleman center.

Just who is Evan Mathis? The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Mathis was originally drafted by the Carolina Panthers in third round of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Alabama. A first-team All-SEC selection in 2004, the 26-year-old Mathis appeared in nine games his rookie season with no starts. He started all 15 games in which he played for Carolina in 2006, but appeared in just one game last season. Mathis was released by the team during final cuts two weeks ago.

Mathis also has more connections to the Dolphins' organization than Henry VIII had wives! (Little historical humor for ya there. That's how we do it here: combine football with education.) First, Mathis is the nephew of former Dolphins tackle Bob Baumhower, who was selected to five Pro Bowls for the team between 1977 and 1986. Mathis worked also with both Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning and offensive line coach Mike Maser in Carolina. Additionally, he played with starting left guard Justin Smiley when both were at Alabama from 2001-2003.

Mathis will wear No. 73 in Miami, which was most recently worn by undrafted rookie offensive tackle Dan Gore in training camp.


Grigsby/Cramer

Some fans were surprised when Boomer Grigsby beat out Reagan Mauia for the team's starting fullback job during the preseason. While I predicted before camp that Mauia would win the job, it became obvious early on that Grigsby was far out-performing the incumbent. Grigsby did just about everything better during the preseason, and the team made the right choice in choosing him over Mauia.

Despite beating out the only other fullback on the Dolphins roster during the preseason, Grigsby's grasp on the starting gig was apparently not safe at all. Just one game into the regular season, the Dolphins have parted ways with the converted Kansas City linebacker in favor of Casey Cramer.

The move comes two days after Dolphins running backs Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown combined for 47 yards on 16 carries in the season opener. The biggest hole in Grigsby's game always had been his blocking, as he was a solid pass catcher and is a terrific special teams player.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Cramer was a good receiving tight end at Dartmouth, hauling in 72 passes for 1,017 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior in 2002. However, he has just two receptions for eight yards in 27 career NFL games. He was drafted by the Buccaneers in 2004 but did not make the team. After bouncing around some practice squads, he saw active roter time with the Carolina Panthers in 2004-2005 and then the Tennessee Titans in 2006-2007. He was released by the Titans on August 30 during final cuts.

What's the scouting report on Cramer? Well, his totally unbiased agent had this to say:
"He's a Dartmouth graduate, very intelligent, and will have the playbook down pat by Sunday morning. He's tough, smart, a good pass-catcher, a good blocker and excellent special teams player.''
Fantastic.

Despite the agent's expected confidence, Cramer's status on the team is no safer than Grigsby's and he's just the latest guy being given a chance to earn the fullback job long-term. He has experience at both fullback and tight end, though he will definitely be working at fullback as that's where the hole is on the team. He's also a given to play on special teams in the same capacity as Grigsby. Hopefully, Cramer will nail down the fullback job and improve the running game. It is by no means a given, however, as Cramer has never had a starting gig in four career years. There could easily be a revolving door at fullback this season.

Cramer will make his Dolphins debut against the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday sporting No. 30, which was most recently worn by cornerback Chris Roberson during the preseason.

2008 Week 1 Recap: Jets at Dolphins

These were up yesterday (Tuesday) but I've been busy with school. For future reference, you can check my YouTube profile if I don't post about them here. Enjoy!

Part I



Part II

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Week 1 Game Predictions

In an attempt to have more general NFL content on the blog, I've decided I'm going to add weekly predictions of NFL games accompanied by brief explanations. It's quick and easy, just like me. Here we go.

Last week's record: n/a
Season record: n/a

Giants over Redskins - The Giants may have lost some pieces this their Super Bowl run, but I think Eli and Co. will come out strong.

Bengals over Ravens - I simply don't see Joe Flacco being able keep up with Carson Palmer in a shootout.

Jaguars over Titans - Never been a fan of Vince Young, never will. The Jags can handle him.

Dolphins over Jets - Is this a biased pick? Probably. That being said, I think the matchup is close enough that the Dolphins have a decent shot to pull it out. If healthy, they'll be solid.

Patriots over Chiefs - this isn't even close. The Patriots would beat the chiefs if they played only backups.

Saints over Buccaneers - a tough divisional matchup, but I like New Orleans' offense to win this one.

Eagles over Rams - Steven Jackson might be rusty and the Eagles are just a much better all-around team.

Steelers over Texans - we're all waiting for the Texans to break out, but the Steelers are superior.

Lions over Falcons - Brent Grimes and Chris Houston will be on Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. It could get ugly.

Seahawks over Bills - I'm not sold on Trent Edwards yet.

Chargers over Panthers - the absence of Steve Smith will only make this a more uneven matchup.

Cardinals
over 49ers - San Francisco's quarterback situation will doom them this year. There's not a starter among the bunch.

Cowboys over Browns - Possibly one of the best and most intriguing matchups of the weekend. It could go either way, but I like Dallas a lot.

Colts over Bears - Peyton Manning will simply score too much for the Bears' offense to match.

Packers over Vikings - another good matchup that could go either way. It's a toss-up.

Broncos over Raiders - Oakland has a lot of young potential on offense, but I don't think it's there yet.

2008 NFL Awards and Standings Predictions

Taking a break from the Miami Dolphins theme, I thought I'd throw out my predictions for this year's NFL standings and individual awards. So.... here they are.

(Playoff seeds in parentheses...just like this sentence.)

AFC East
1. New England Patriots (2)
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins
4. Buffalo Bills

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (4)
2. Cleveland Browns (5)
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Baltimore Ravens

AFC South
1. Indianapolis Colts (1)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (6)
3. Tennessee Titans
4. Houston Texans

AFC West
1. San Diego Chargers (3)
2. Denver Broncos
3. Oakland Raiders
4. Kansas City Chiefs

NFC East
1. Dallas Cowboys (1)
2. Philadelphia Eagles (5)
3. New York Giants
4. Washington Redskins

NFC North
1. Green Bay Packers (3)
2. Minnesota Vikings (6)
3. Chicago Bears
4. Detroit Lions

NFC South
1. New Orleans Saints (2)
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3. Carolina Panthers
4. Atlanta Falcons

NFC West
1. Seattle Seahawks (4)
2. St. Louis Rams
3. Arizona Cardinals
4. San Francisco 49ers

Wild Card Round
Chargers (3) over Jaguars (6)
Steelers (4) over Browns (5)
Packers (3) over Vikings (6)
Eagles (4) over Seahawks (5)

Divisional Round
Colts (1) over Steelers (4)
Chargers (3) over Patriots (2)
Cowboys (1) over Eagles (4)
Saints (2) over Packers (3)

Conference Championships
Chargers (3) over Colts (1)
Cowboys (1) over Saints (2)

Super Bowl
Chargers over Cowboys

Super Bowl MVP
LaDainian Tomlinson

NFL MVP
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers

Offensive Player of the Year
Randy Moss, Patriots

Defensive Player of the Year
Jared Allen, Vikings

Offensive Rookie of the Year
Matt Ryan, Falcons

Defensive Rookie of the Year
Jerod Mayo, Patriots

Coach of the Year
Wade Phillips, Cowboys

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Safety Culver rids into Miami; Mauia finds a new gig

The Dolphins swapped one former Packer for another yesterday, releasing cornerback Joey Thomas and signing Tyrone Culver. The 25-year-old Culver had been released by the Packers during final cuts.

Background

A third-round pick by the Packers in 2004, Thomas has also played for the New Orleans Saints and attended training camp with the Dallas Cowboys last year. In Miami, Thomas intercepted a Cleo Lemon pass in the preseason and initially survived final cuts as the fifth cornerback over Will Billingsley.

In 49 games at Fresno State, the 6-1, 210-pound Culver recorded 199 tackles, three sacks and four interceptions. Drafted by the Packers in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft, he appeared in 14 games as a rookie and recorded nine tackles and one pass deflection. After spending all of the 2007 season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, Culver tied for fourth in the team in the 2008 preseason with 15 tackles. He lost the backup free safety job to Charlie Peprah and was released on Aug. 30 during final cuts.

Analysis

Thomas had a solid preseason but he was never entirely secure on the roster, so it's not too surprising to see him cut here. He could be brought back if the Dolphins needed corner help, but three of their safeties (Chris Crocker, Jason Allen, Renaldo Hill) have plenty of corner experience so having four won't be a huge issue. Thomas has been a disappointment since entering the league as a third-rounder and might not have much of a future in the league beyond camp body/potential backup.

I see the Culver signing as a solid but not entirely significant one. Culver doesn't have great speed but he's extremely smart and has been called a "coach on the field." A solid all-around player, he'll probably start off on special teams but could push first-round disappointment Jason Allen for playing time eventually. Allen lost the starting free safety gig to Chris Crocker in the preseason and will likely be working primarily on special teams himself.

Mauia inks with Bengals

In former Dolphins news, recently released fullback Reagan Mauia was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals. The team's starting fullback, Jeremi Johnson, was placed on injured reserve the same day. Mauia will initially back up Daniel Coats for Cincinnati, though if he could ever become more consistent and utilize his physical tools he could be something more. He's a pure blocker and not a threat with the ball in any way.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dolphins cut three players, claim three off waivers

Everyone knew the Dolphins' roster wasn't finalized even after Saturday's cut down to 53, and that was confirmed the following day when the Dolphins made three transactions involving six players. The team waived wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, offensive lineman Trey Darilek and linebacker Rob Ninkovich while claiming three players off waivers - wide receiver Brandon London (Giants) and offensive lineman Andy Alleman (Saints) and Nate Garner (Jets).

The Odd Men Out
  • Armstrong was signed during training camp as a member of arena league's Dallas Desperados. He impressed the staff with his deep-play ability in camp and finished the preseason with six catches for 61 yards. He was the sixth and final receiver on the roster before his release.
  • Darilek, who attended training camp with the Cowboys in 2007 before heading to the CFL, opened camp as the starting right guard, worked some at tackle and played the final two preseason games at center.
  • Ninkovich spent last season with the Dolphins after being claimed off waivers from the Saints. He was productive this preseason at outside linebacker, recording eight tackles and two sacks.
The Newcomers
  • Undrafted out of UMass in 2007, wide receiver Brandon London spent his first season on the Giants' practice squad and received a Super Bowl ring when the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. In the 2008 preseason, London finished third on the team in receptions (7) and fourth in yards (86). He will wear No. 17 in Miami, which was most recently worn by undrafted receiver John Dunlap in camp.
  • Alleman began his college career as a defensive end at Pitt before transferring to Akron and making the switch to the offensive line. He was selected in the third round by the Saints in 2007 but was inactive for 15 games his rookie season. (He dressed but did not play in the other.) Alleman will wear No. 57 in Miami, most recently worn by linebacker Titus Brown in camp.
  • The lone drafted player among Miami's claims, offensive tackle Nate Garner was selected by the Jets in the seventh round this year out of Arkansas. He will wear No. 75 in Miami, which was most recently worn by undrafted guard Matt Spanos in camp.
Analysis

The most surprising cut of the three is Darilek. Not because Darilek was a good player, but because his versatility across the line had been so valued in camp. He worked plenty at guard and tackle and was most recently the second-team center behind Samson Satele. While Alleman, who will now backup Satele, easily has more upside that Darilek, I would have expected Ike Ndukwe to go before Darilek.

The release of Ninkovich is also somewhat of a surprise, albeit a minor one. Ninkovich did have a good camp and preseason, but he was nothing more than the third-string strong side linebacker and the team was sorely lacking offensive line depth. I do not believe Ninkovich is eligible for the practice squad, but I could be mistaken.

I had initially predicted Armstrong to be cut on Saturday, but it seems I was a day late. At his size (5-11, 175) there are durability concerns but he's got potential as a deep threat. He'll likely land on the practice squad.

I'm not going to claim to be an expert on the three players Miami claimed, because I am not. That being said, London does seem like a good pickup. He possesses good size at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, and it sounds as if he made a strong case to beat out perennial disappointment Sinorice Moss in New York. (Perhaps Moss' draft status saved him.) I don't expect London to contribute any time soon, as he's more of a project than anything. Neither he nor Greg Camarillo is secure on the roster.

I will admit it is curious that Alleman, a third-round pick last year, was unable to even get on the field his rookie season. (Hey, neither could their first-rounder, Robert Meahem.) That being said, we know he's a solid prospect as a former third-rounder and the fact that nearly a quarter of the teams in the NFL (including the Jets and Patriots) put in claims for him bodes well for us too. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Alleman will back up Satele at center and could develop into a reliable backup along the interior line.

I'm not saying it's the case, but realistically it's possible the claiming of Nate Garner from the Jets could be simply reconnaissance. Maybe the team does like the 6-foot-7, 310-pound Garner as a backup tackle and maybe they'll keep him, but there's no denying there is an advantage to bringing in a recently-released Jets player a week before we play them in the season opener. The Jets and Patriots do this kind of thing all the time trying to gain an edge on one another. Only time will tell how the Dolphins really view Garner, but don't be shocked if his tenure here following Week 1 is short. For now, he'll back up Vernon Carey at right tackle.