Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chris Nelson's 2008 Miami Dolphins Awards

No one expected the Miami Dolphins to do what they did in 2008.

Miami was on its third head coach in as many years, with both of the last previous two reigns ending on extremely sour notes.

The Dolphins were a league-worst 1-15 a season ago and still (seemingly) lacked depth and overall talent heading into this season.

Until soon before the regular season, they lacked a viable option at quarterback. The August arrival of Chad Pennington was met with a chorus of claims about his lack of arm strength and inability to win in the clutch.

Even with the arrival of football czar Bill Parcells, the lowly Dolphins didn't seem like strong candidates for a quick turnaround.

But turn around they did. They historically improved from 1-15 to 11-5 and a division title in just one season, setting an NFL record with just 13 turnovers along the way.

While the Dolphins' season is not over yet, I felt now would be an opportune time to hand out some awards for some of the best individual and collective performances from their impressive season.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 Week 17 Recap: Dolphins at Jets

With a 24-17 road victory over the New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins completed the biggest one-year turnaround in NFL history by willing 10 games more in 2008 than they did the previous season.

Also with the victory, the Dolphins clinched the AFC East title while simultaneously eliminating division rivals New England and New York from playoff contention.

It was a strong performance from all areas of the team as the Dolphins pulled off another victory with a strong fourth quarter, as they have so often done this season.

The win gives the Dolphins great momentum heading into the playoffs, as they will play the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday in the Wild Card Round. In the meantime, here's my recap of the Dolphins' victory over the Jets:


Offense & Special Teams
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Defense
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Week 17 Dolphins-Jets Highlights

The recap videos are uploading now, but in the meantime here is a highlight video from the Dolphins' win over the Jets in Week 17 to clinch the AFC East title.

I upload these videos here because YouTube doesn't let them stay up very long for copyright reasons. Fortunately for you (but unfortunately for me) this site isn't big enough (yet!) for anyone to care that I'm uploading copyrighted material. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!

Dolphins to Host Ravens Sunday at 1 p.m. EST

What an amazing day for us Dolphins fans! The team pulled off the ultimate turnaround season, going from 1-15 last year to 11-5 and a division title the next!

The Dolphins capped off their impressive regular season with a 24-17 road victory against the New York Jets.

I'll have my recap videos up later tonight, but for now I wanted to let everyone know that our first playoff game, at home against Baltimore, will be on Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 1 p.m. EST. The game will air on CBS.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Week 17 Game Predictions

Not a great week last week, especially in the late games. Here's hoping I can pull off a good final week and win my picks league!

Last week's record: 9-7
Season record: 153-87 (63.8 percent)

Falcons over Rams - The Falcons have something to play for and St. Louis is downright awful. Atlanta won't need the refs' help to win this one.

Patriots over Bills - It might not get them to the playoffs, but New England is playing damn good football right now and Buffalo's pretty pathetic.

Chiefs over Bengals - Kansas City has some weapons on offense and gave the Dolphins a hell of a game last week.

Packers over Lions - The Packers have let me down a ton this year, but I still don't expect them to go down in history as the only team to lose to the '08 Lions.

Titans over Colts - Tennessee is likely to sit some guys and I might have picked Indy regardless because I like how they've been playing in the second half of the season.

Vikings over Giants -The Giants have nothing to play for and will probably be sitting some guys, while the Vikings are desperately in need of a win.

Saints over Panthers - Carolina has been playing great football lately, but I have to go with New Orleans at home in the role of spoiler.

Steelers over Browns - Cleveland is on its fourth quarterback of the season in Bruce Gradkowski, and he was signed this month. Despite being an upgrade over Ken Dorsey (man I have bashed him a ton on this site haven't I?), I don't give him a chance in hell against Pittsburgh.

Buccaneers over Raiders - Oakland pulled off an impressive win last week against Houston, but I still don't like them as the visitors in Tampa.

Texans over Bears - Somewhat of an upset pick, I like Houston as the spoilers at home against Chicago.

Dolphins over Jets - The Dolphins have been playing much better football than the Jets lately, and the weather won't be a factor like it was in Miami's tough win in Kansas City. I say the Dolphins finish off the surprise season with the division title.

Cowboys over Eagles - It won't be easy, but I like Dallas to secure the No. 6 seed in the playoffs with a win over a Philadelphia team coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Redskins.

Cardinals over Seahawks - The Cardinals might be division winners, but they've been playing absolutely horribly lately. We'll see if they can build any momentum going into the playoffs.

Redskins over 49ers - It's been a tough second half for the Redskins in 2008, but I think they'll finish the season on a strong note with a win in San Francisco.

Ravens over Jaguars - Baltimore needs a win to ensure they get the wild card spot, and I expect them to do just that against a disappointing Jacksonville team.

Chargers over Broncos - In one of the ugliest division races in recent memory, I like the rolling Chargers to sneak into the playoffs.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dolphins Re-Sign CB Scorpio Babers to Practice Squad

The same day cornerback Will Allen was held out of practice, the Dolphins added a second cornerback to the practice squad by re-signing rookie Scorpio Babers on Wednesday.

Originally signed by Miami as an undrafted rookie out of Sam Houston State in May, Babers failed to make both the Dolphins' and Packers' squads and has been a free agent since the end of August.

Background

Babers played three seasons (2003-2004, 2006) at Sam Houston State. As a senior, he was an honorable mention All-Southland Conference after recording 46 tackles, an interception and eight pass deflections. He finished his collegiate career with 67 career tackles.

Babers originally attended the Dolphins' May 2008 minicamp on a tryout basis and was signed to a contract on May 5. He was waived on July 30 in favor of cornerback Chris Roberson.

Signed by the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 7 to take the roster spot vacated by Brett Favre, Babers went on to appear in three preseason games and record three tackles. He was waived during final cuts on Aug. 30 and remained unsigned.

A free agent since being let go by the Packers, Babers was re-signed to the Dolphins' practice squad on Dec. 24. He joins fellow rookie Will Billingsley as one of two cornerbacks on the practice squad and fills the opening left by linebacker William Kershaw, who was signed to the active roster on Dec. 20.

Babers will presumably continue to wear No. 35, which he was assigned during the offseason and wore prior to his release in July. He will make roughly $5,200 for each week he is on the practice squad and his contract will expire at season's end.

Analysis

Having not paid much attention to the guy when he was here the first time, I failed to notice that Babers was apparently not an undrafted rookie but rather a street free agent when he signed with Miami in May. If the Dolphins' website is correct and Babers did play at Sam Houston State between 2003-2006, then he would have been eligible for the 2007 NFL Draft.

It appears, like Billingsley, Babers went undrafted and then spent over a year out of football, assuming he didn't play in some random indoor league. I've found no evidence of him playing in the CFL, AFL or af2 in 2007, but since he wasn't playing college ball I'm not sure what he was up to.

Regardless, there is little significance to this move. Will Allen may be dinged up, but he's likely to play and even if he were not Babers would factor into the equation little more than I would. Looking at the Dolphins' roster, there are at least seven players (W. Allen, Goodman, Jones, Thomas, J. Allen, Culver, Hill) that either do or would play corner before Babers. It is highly unrealistic and bordering impossible that Babers could ever be activated before the Jets' game.

Essentially, the only reason Babers was re-signed now is because of familiarity. Having been with the Dolphins in the offseason, Babers is at least somewhat familiar with the defensive scheme and should be able to pick it up better than a totally fresh face would.

This late in the season, and with Will Allen hurting, Babers simply gives the Dolphins another body at corner during this week of practice. You might also say Babers is auditioning for a future contract with the team in January, but he's far from a lock even for that and probably doesn't have an NFL career ahead of him.

But hey, at least he can always say he was the guy who replaced Brett Favre on the Packers' roster!

What's with the jacket, Dan?

A little poor choice of color given the game on Sunday, no?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dolphins Sign Veteran LB Derek Smith, Waive WR Chris Hannon

With linebacker Channing Crowder still nursing a knee injury and having missed the team's Week 16 contest against the Chiefs, the Dolphins have added a little veteran depth to the position by signing linebacker Derek Smith.

A 12-year veteran, Smith has played for the Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers and has amassed over 1,000 career tackles. He played college football at Arizona State.

The Dolphins waived wide receiver Chris Hannon to make room for Smith on the roster. Claimed off waivers from the 49ers on Dec. 3, Hannon was inactive for each of his two games with the team.

Derek Smith

An honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection at Arizona State in 1996, Smith was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the third round (80th overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft.

Smith appeared in all 64 games during his four years with the Redskins, starting all but three. During that span he recorded 520 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and an interception. He became a free agent following the 2000 season.

Smith signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an unrestricted free agent in 2001. During the 2003 season, Smith recorded a career-high and team-record 189 tackles along with a career high 3.5 sacks.

Smith played in 104 games for the 49ers between 2001-2007, starting all but two of them. During that span, he led the team in tackles five seasons. He also recorded nine sacks, three forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, three interceptions and 26 pass deflections over that time

The 49ers released Smith on Feb. 19, 2008. He was signed to a two-year contract by the San Diego Chargers just nine days later on Feb. 29.

Smith began the season starting at inside linebacker in the Chargers' 3-4 scheme due to the four-game suspension of Stephen Cooper. Smith went on to appear in five games (four starts) and record 13 tackles for the Chargers during the 2008 season. He was released on Nov. 12 when the team claimed running back Michael Bennett off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Smith signed a one-year, $830,000 contract with the Dolphins on Dec. 22. He will wear No. 59, which was worn by linebacker Junior Glymph during the preseason.

Chris Hannon

Undrafted out of Tennessee in 2006, Hannon was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent. He spent part of his rookie season on Kansas City's active roster but did not appear in a game.

After being waived by the Chiefs prior to the 2007 season, Hannon spent all of the regular season on the Carolina Panthers' practice squad. The team waived him during final cuts in 2008.

Hannon began the 2008 season the the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad until being promoted to the active roster on Nov. 29. He was waived on Dec. 2 and subsequently claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins.

Assigned No. 14, Hannon did not dress in games against the 49ers and Buffalo Bills before being waived on Dec. 22.

Analysis

Smith received a one-year contact worth $830,000 from the Dolphins, which is the minimum salary for a player with ten or more accrued seasons in 2008 as outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Smith will receive a prorated portion of the salary, essentially meaning he'll make about $48,800 for being with the team against the Jets. Not a bad take for one day!

The addition of Smith provides the Dolphins with a some veteran depth at the inside linebacker spot in the event that Crowder's knee injury prevents him from playing in the season finale against the Jets.

Smith's signing has its advantages and disadvantages. The good news is he's an experienced and proven veteran who has been at least a solid linebacker throughout most of his career. He also has the size for and experience in the 3-4 scheme, having played in it under Mike Nolan in San Francisco for three seasons and in San Diego earlier this year.

On the other side of the coin, Smith's best years are certainly behind him and he's definitely not starter material at this point. He's not a contributor on special teams and is really nothing more than a temporary fill-in. It seems unlikely he's with the team beyond this season.

I imagine the signing of Smith means the team wanted to have an experienced vet backing up Akin Ayodele and Reggie Torbor in the even that Crowder cannot go Sunday. Linebacker William Kershaw, who was added from the practice squad last week and forced a fumble on special teams against Kansas City, had no 3-4 experience prior to joining the Dolphins and has almost no experience on defense in the regular season at all.

As for the Dolphins' run defense without Crowder, I'm not very concerned. Crowder is a solid player and certainly the team's best option at his position, but Reggie Torbor is capable of manning the position and the Dolphins' defensive line has improved greatly against the run as the season has progressed.

Some fans have made a connection between Miami's defensive struggles against Kansas City and the absence of Crowder, but I think that's being overblown. From what I could tell, and as I articulated in my recap videos, I think the biggest factor in the Dolphins' defensive decline was the cold weather. It clearly prevented defensive players on both sides from being able to pursue, hit and wrap-up like normal.

As for Hannon, his release now lends credibility to the thought that he was brought in solely to find out about San Francisco's offense. His addition to the receiving corps after Greg Camarillo was lost for the season, as opposed to promoting Anthony Armstrong from the practice squad, was a curious one because we were playing Hannon's former team the following week.

Hannon will not be added to the practice squad as he's already been claimed off waivers by the Detroit Lions. There's no reason to think he'll return to Miami down the line.

Breaking News: LB Derek Smith signed

According to the NFL.com transactions page (which no longer sucks like it used to) we signed veteran linebacker Derek Smith on Dec. 22. The signing has not been confirmed elsewhere and no countermove is known.

A 12-year veteran, the Arizona State alum has played for the Washington Redskins (1997–2000), San Francisco 49ers (2001–2007) and San Diego Chargers (2008). He was released by the Chargers on Nov. 12.

The move comes a day after Dolphins starting inside linebacker Channing Crowder missed the team's Week 16 game with a knee injury.

I'll have full details and analysis on the move when more info becomes available.

UPDATE: The Dolphins have waived wide receiver Chris Hannon to make room for Smith on the roster. Hannon was inactive for two games after being claimed off waivers from the 49ers.

Monday, December 22, 2008

2008 Week 16 Recap: Dolphins at Chiefs

In the coldest game in franchise history, the Dolphins were able to outlast the Kansas City Chiefs in an offensive shootout.

The win was the Dolphins fourth straight and enables them to take the AFC East title with the New York Jets in the regular season finale.

It's going to be an exciting week capped off by what should be a great game, but for now here is my recap of the Dolphins' 38-31 win over the Chiefs in Week 16:


Offense
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Defense & Special Teams
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Game Highlights

Dolphins-Jets to play at 4:15; Jets could still make Wild Card

As expected, the Dolphins-Jets game has been moved to 4:15 p.m. EST. Originally thought to be a possibility for the Sunday night game, those hopes were dashed when the Jets lose to Seattle yesterday.

The Bills-Patriots game will still be at 1 p.m. EST. A Bills win would give the Jets a shot at the division title if they can beat Miami. A Bills loss means the Jets are out of the hunt for the AFC East crown.

However, regardless of the outcome of the Bills-Patriots game, don't expect to the Jets to throw in the towel. Also moved to a 4:15 starting time was the Jaguars-Ravens game. This is significant because if Jacksonville beats Baltimore, the Jets can secure the last wild card spot with a win over Miami. So don't be expecting a Jets team to come out deflated, because they won't know their fate when they are playing the Dolphins.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Broncos-Chargers flexed to Sunday night in Week 17

In large part due to the Jets' loss to Seattle today (thus not guaranteeing the AFC East winner will come from the Dolphins-Jets game next week) NBC has decided to flex the Broncos-Chargers game to their Sunday night broadcast instead of the Dolphins-Jets. It makes sense, as the Broncos and Chargers will be playing for the AFC West title.

CBS now has a hole to fill in the 4:15 time slot, meaning the Dolphins-Jets game could quite possibly be moved from 1 p.m. to later in the afternoon. Perhaps if that happens and the Patriots beat Buffalo (knocking the Jets out of playoff contention) New York will be so deflated Miami will be able to beat them and win the division. Or perhaps Eric Mangini will let us win just to stick it to the Bill Belichick and the Pats. Seems possible to me.

What each AFC East team needs to win the division

I'll post my recaps of the Dolphins-Chiefs game either tonight or tomorrow, but for now here's a quick summary of what each AFC East team needs to have happen in Week 17 in order to win the division.

Miami - Win in Week 17
New York - Win in Week 17, Patriots loss
New England - Win in Week 17, Dolphins loss
Buffalo - Hire hitman to kill all members of Dolphins, Jets and Patriots, therefore leaving the Bills as the only remaining team in the division.

As you can see, the Dolphins have the easiest path because they are the only ones in control of their own destiny. If the Dolphins beat the Jets, they win the division. It's been an amazing run already, and should be an exciting game!

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.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Breaking News: Dolphins waive FB Casey Cramer, Promote LB William Kershaw

I'll have an analysis article on this later today, but for now I just wanted to post that the Dolphins have waived fullback Casey Cramer and signed linebacker William Kershaw off their practice squad.

A fifth-year player out of Dartmouth, Cramer was signed following the season opener when fullback Boomer Grigsby was released. However, an ankle injury prevented Cramer from keeping a grasp on the job and he eventually lost out to current starter Lousaka Polite.

Kershaw, 25, is a third-year player out of Maryland who has bounced around from practice squad to practice squad over the past three seasons. He has appeared in three regular season NFL games (two with Kansas City and one with Houston) but has not recorded a tackle. His addition is likely to add depth to the inside linebacker spot with Channing Crowder nursing a knee injury.

Week 16 Game Predictions

Not a great week last week, as I only got 10 of 16 picks right. Missed some ones I should have gotten too. Lots of tough games this week, but I'll try to do better.

Oh, and I picked Indy last night. Trust me. Would I lie to you?

Last week's record: 10-6
Season record: 144-80 (64.3 percent)

Cowboys over Ravens - An extremely tough game to pick, but I'm going with Dallas after a very impressive (and unexpected given the media attention that preceded it) win over the Giants last week.

Bengals over Browns - I'm pretty sure I said I wasn't picking the Bengals anymore, but they' actually pulled out a win against a kind-of, somewhat, halfway decent Redskins team. Plus I've also said I wouldn't pick a team Ken Dorsey's leading either, so I had to take a side.

Saints over Lions - New Orleans might not be good one the road this season, but this is the game they'll break that trend as the Lions continue their pursuit of imperfection.

Steelers - The Titans have fallen back down to earth a little bit lately, while the Steelers are coming off a big albeit controversial win over the Ravens. I like Pittsburgh here.

Dolphins over Chiefs - It's not a gimme by any stretch, but I think Tony Sparano has his team focused on the task at hand and I don't think the elements will hurt the Dolphins' offense too much.

49ers over Rams - The Niners haven't played horribly lately, including their close loss to Miami last week. They should be able to finally get a win over the helpless Rams.

Patriots over Cardinals - They might not make the playoffs, but the Patriots' offense is clicking right now and I expect them to win a high-scoring affair.

Chargers over Buccaneers - Am I a fool for picking the Chargers here? Perhaps. Well let's just call this my upset pick of the week.

Broncos over Bills - Buffalo is a mess right now and can't even win games they have in the bag. Denver shouldn't have much of a problem with them.

Texans over Raiders - Houston's got a great offense and I expect them to keep rolling after a big division win over Tennessee last week.

Jets over Seahawks - The Jets haven't been playing great football lately with a lose to the 49ers and a lucky win against Buffalo, but I still like them against Seattle.

Vikings - Former Dolphin Fred Evans has some tough shoes to fill in Pat Williams' absence, especially against a bruising running back in Michael Turner. Still, I like the Vikings in what should be a very loud home game.

Eagles over Redskins - Philly is as hot as any team in the NFL right now, and you just can't justify picking a Redskins team against them that's gone completely down the toilet in the second half of the season.

Giants over Panthers - An absolutely fantastic matchup, I think the Giants' defense is up to the task of slowing down DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

Bears over Packers - It seems every week I pick Green Bay, and every week they disappoint me. The Packers are finished and I expect the Bears to handle them this week.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chris Nelson on Dolfan Talk with Big Papa Pump

At the recommendation of my friend Doug Ford of Phinatics.com, I joined the Dolphins discussion on Big Papa Pump's online radio show at FinsRadio.net. If you're a Dolphins fan, you have to know who Big Papa Pump is because he's pretty much the most famous Dolfan around and is always on the big screen at Dolphin Stadium.

Anyway, here's tonight's show:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Addressing the 2008 Miami Dolphins' Pro Bowl Selections and Snubs

The 2009 Pro Bowl rosters have been revealed, and that means it's time for an endless outcry on message boards for all 32 NFL teams about why all their team's players were snubbed. Yes, it is indeed a time of rampant homerism and obscene bias, and Dolphins fans are no exception.

So how do you know which Dolphins players truly should have made the Pro Bowl and which should not? Well, that's what I'm here for. In the following videos, I discuss the Dolphins' two 2009 Pro Bowl selections - running back Ronnie Brown and Joey Porter - as well as discuss any Dolphins fans who might have been snubbed in the eyes of some. Enjoy.


Three Ex-Dolphins Find New Homes

It's been a good week for three ex-Dolphins that are back in the NFL. Wide receiver Derek Hagan and linebacker Edmond Miles have both signed with the New York Giants, while cornerback Michael Lehan has signed with the New Orleans Saints.

Miles was waived by the Dolphins during final cuts in August, while Hagan and Lehan were released during the season. Lehan was already on injured reserve at the time of his release.

Derek Hagan

A third-round pick by Nick Saban in 2005, Hagan rarely stood out with the Dolphins. After a very productive career at Arizona State, a case of the drops during Senior Bowl week seemingly followed Hagan to the NFL for 2+ seasons. The Dolphins finally gave up on Hagan in early November as he finished his Dolphins career with 53 catches for 645 yards and three touchdowns in 36 games.

Even with Plaxico Burress out, Hagan is unlikely to have an impact in New York this season. He still has five other receivers in front of him and probably isn't better than any of them. He's unlikely to ever be a starter in the NFL again.

Edmond Miles

Just as with safety Courtney Bryan, Miles' time with the Dolphins' somewhat screwed him over because he appeared in too many games as a rookie to ever be eligible for a practice squad. This is a problem for borderline roster guys like Miles, who need every opportunity they can get to latch on with a team and the practice squad is a perfect outlet.

Despite being a strong special teams player (Miles recorded 18 tackles and a forced fumble as an undrafted rookie in 2007) I knew his time with Miami was finished when Bill Parcells was hired. At just 6-0 and 230 pounds, Miles is extremely undersized for the 3-4 scheme and could never have had much of a role on defense here. Consequently, the Dolphins waived Miles during final cuts on Aug. 30.

With six more talented linebackers already on the roster ahead of him, Miles' contributions to the Giants (and likely to any other team he plays for) will likely be limited to special teams. It's nice to see him get a shot though because it was a role he performed admirably in Miami.

Michael Lehan

Lehan had durability issues his last year with the Dolphins but had a strong 2007 season in which he started a career-high 14 games. After signing him to a three-year contract in the offseason, the Dolphins eventually gave up on Lehan by placing him on injured reserve in October and releasing him earlier this month.

The Dolphins did Lehan a favor by releasing him last week as it allowed him to join another team to finish out the season. In New Orleans, he goes to an organization with a poor pass defense and a dearth of talent at cornerback.

It might be too late in the season for Lehan to make any big contributions in 2008. However, assuming Lehan signed a mutli-year deal, it seems possibly he could compete for a nickel or dime job with New Orleans in 2009.

Monday, December 15, 2008

2008 Week 15 Recap: 49ers at Dolphins

It wasn't pretty, but the Dolphins managed to hold off the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15 by a score of 14-9.

At 9-5 on the season the Dolphins remain in a three-way tie with the New England Patriots and New York Jets. If the Dolphins beat Kansas City this week and the Jets beat Seattle, then the Dolphins-Jets Week 17 matchup will be for the division title. It's an exciting time, no doubt.

For now, here's my recap of the Dolphins' win over the Niners:


Offense
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Defense & Special Teams
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Defense & Special Teams (continued)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Congratulations Joey Haynos

I'll have my usual recaps of the Dolphins' 14-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers later tonight, but I just wanted to give a special congratulations to Dolphins tight end Joey Haynos, who recorded his first NFL reception and touchdown today against the 49ers.

An undrafted tight end from Maryland, Haynos was signed off the Green Bay Packers' practice squad in September and has appeared in five games for the Dolphins this season. In October, he agreed to an interview with this website, so he'll always be alright in my book. Congrats, Joey.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Week 15 Game Predictions

I'm coming off my best week of the season picking games (13 of 16 correct) and I'm already 1-for-1 this week. I'm feelin' good!

Last week's record: 13-3
Season record: 134-74 (64.4%)

Falcons over Buccaneers - If Tampa Bay's run defense doesn't improve over last week's awful performance, and especially if Jeff Garcia doesn't play, I don't see this team winning in Atlanta.

Redskins over Bengals - Washington has been playing pretty disappointing football in the second half of the season, but there's no justification for ever picking Cincinnati at this point.

Colts over Detroit - This just isn't even fair. Peyton Manning's going to have a field day.

Chargers over Chiefs - The Chiefs have played better than their record indicates and could easily bring a tough game to their division rivals, but I still have to go with the much more talented San Diego squad.

Seahawks over Rams - Seattle stomped them 37-13 earlier in the season, albeit with Matt Hasselbeck instead of Seneca Wallace at quarterback, but I have a feeling (though by no means a confident one) that St. Louis pulls out a win here.

Dolphins over 49ers - San Francisco was impressive in their upset over the Jets last week, but I still like the hot Dolphins at home against a Frank Gore-less Niners teams.

Jets over Bills - As much as I'd love for the Bills to pull out an upset here, I expect the Jets to rebound from their loss last week and I just don't see any way J.P. Losman keeps up with Brett Favre.

Packers over Jaguars - The Packers have lost three straight tough games and have fallen flat on their face in the playoff hunt, but I'm going to predict they get a W here over the even more disappointing Jaguars.

Titans over Texans - Tennessee may be 12-1 while Houston has a losing record, but this game is closer than it appears. Tennessee's offensive rank is below average while their defensive rank is stellar, and it's just the opposite for Houston. I expect a close game, but I'm going with the better defense.

Cardinals over Vikings - I probably would have picked the Cardinals regardless, but Frerotte being out pretty much seals it for me.

Patriots over Raiders - The Raiders are 0-1 when their opponent's quarterback's father has died during the week, but that's not why I'm picking New England here. It's because Oakland's terrible.

Panthers over Broncos - Carolina's running game is just unstoppable right now, and most running backs are unstoppable against Denver's defense anyway. It could get ugly.

Steelers over Ravens - An absolute toss-up. With the top two defenses in the league and mediocre offenses, I expect a baseball score in this one.

Giants over Cowboys - Some of the Cowboys' players just seem hellbent on distracting the team and ruining the season, and I expect New York to take advantage.

Eagles over Browns - I've said it before and I'll say it again - I cannot pick a team to win that starts Ken Dorsey at quarterback. I can't even envision a scenario in which I would do it. I wouldn't pick the '85 Bears with Dorsey leading them.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dolphins Sign OT Daren Heerspink, FB Chris Brown to Practice Squad

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.

Daren Heerspink

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.

Chris Brown

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.

Analysis

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.

Dolphins Release CB Michael Lehan from Injured Reserve

A year after a career season as a key member of the Dolphins' secondary, cornerback Michael Lehan finds himself a free agent. Already out for the season with an ankle injury, the Dolphins released Lehan from injured reserve yesterday.

Background

Originally drafted by the Cleveland Browns out of Minnesota in 2005, Lehan spent three seasons with the team before being waived in he 2006 offseason. During his time in Cleveland, he appeared in 32 games (four starts) and amassed 52 tackles and two pass deflections.

The Dolphins originally signed Lehan as a free agent in May 2006 under Nick Saban. He appeared in 15 games, including two starts, recording 18 tackles and two pass deflections.

Lehan experienced a breakout season under Cam Cameron in 2007, starting a career-high 14 games and recording 57 tackles, one interception and seven pass deflections.

Lehan's contract expired following the 2007 season, making him an unrestricted free agent. Despite a new front office in Miami, Lehan was rewarded with a three-year, $4.95-million contract in February.

An ankle injury landed Lehan on the PUP list to begin training camp in 2008. He went on to appear in three of the team's preseason games, recording a pass deflection and an interception.

Bothered by an ankle injury, the Dolphins placed Lehan on injured reserve on Oct. 24 and re-signed cornerback Joey Thomas. Lehan finished the 2008 season with six tackles and a pass deflection in five games (two starts).

Analysis

Obviously this transaction doesn't have any immediate impact because Lehan was already out for the season.

However, what this move does signify to me is that less than a year after giving Lehan a well-earned extension, the team has decided to move in another direction. If the Dolphins saw Lehan as having a future in Miami, there would be no reason not to keep him on injured reserve through the end of the season because his 2008 salary is guaranteed.

It's disappointing to see Lehan's tenure in Miami end on such a down note, especially after his 2007 performance. While not really starter material, Lehan did an admirable job last season and was a bright spot in the secondary.

This was confirmed by the fact that Bill Parcells and the Dolphins' new front office gave Lehan an extension in the offseason. Along with safety Yeremiah Bell, Lehan was one of only two unrestricted free agents (out of 10 total) re-signed by the Dolphins in the 2008 offseason. Unfortunately, Lehan's nagging injuries prevented him from being able to impress the new staff and it appears the organization has run out of patience.

For those of you wondering if he'll be back in Miami, my feeling on this is that it's not very likely at any point and it's certainly not going to happen any time soon. I don't know the specific rules (I'm looking into it) but I do know that a team must wait a certain amount of time before they can re-sign a player they've released from injured reserve. Obviously, this is to prevent teams from stashing players on IR until they are healthy.

No, it seems the Dolphins are moving on from Lehan entirely. As much as I like Lehan as a potential nickel or dime corner, this isn't a huge loss. Will Allen is having a fantastic season and Andre' Goodman is in the middle of a career year.

The Dolphins do need some talented youth (that pretty much excludes Jason Allen) at the position, but Lehan, 29, doesn't fit that mold either. The Dolphins are sure to add more depth (and potentially a future starter in the draft) this offseason, but Lehan is unlikely to be in the mix.

Week 15 Thursday Night Pick

Bears over Saints - I'm a big fan of the Saints' offense, but the team hasn't been the same on the road (1-5) and I can't imagine them stopping Matt Forte and the Bears in the Chicago cold.

Breaking News: Dolphins Relase CB Michael Lehan from Injured Reserve

The Dolphins trimmed their books a little yesterday, releasing cornerback Michael Lehan from injured reserve. The 29-year-old Lehan was re-signed to a three-year, $4.95 million contract in February.

A fifth-round pick by Cleveland in 2003, Lehan originally signed with the Dolphins as a free agent in 2006. He started a career-high 14 games at cornerback in 2007 under first-year head coach Cam Cameron.

Plagued with hamstring and ankle injuries throughout training camp and into the regular season, Lehan appeared in just five games for the Dolphins in 2008 before being placed on injured reserve Oct. 24.

I'll have more on this move as well as the Dolphins' two practice squad additions later today.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Breaking News: Dolphins Sign Fullback Chris Brown to Practice Squad

A day after re-signing offensive tackle Daren Heerspink to their practice squad, the Miami Dolphins added a fresh face to the unit by signing fullback Chris Brown to the practice squad.

A tight end at Tennessee, Brown (6-0, 239) was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent and has spent part of the 2008 season their practice squad.

The addition of Brown gives the Dolphins a full eight-man practice squad. The team had two open vacancies after linebacker Rob Ninkovich and running back Jalen Parmele were signed to other teams' active rosters.

I'll have full details and analysis on these moves Thursday, so be sure to check back for that.

Breaking News: OT Daren Heerspink Re-Signed to Practice Squad

With two practice squad vacancies to fill, the Dolphins have brought back one of their undrafted rookies by re-signing offensive tackle Daren Heerspink.

Signed by the Dolphins in May out of Portland State, the 6-6, 315-pound Heerspink was waived by the Dolphins during final cuts on Aug. 30. He was re-signed to the practice squad but released on Sept. 12 and has been a free agent ever since.

The Dolphins still have one opening on the practice squad following the Heerspink signing. Linebacker Rob Ninkovich and running back Jalen Parmele have been signed off the practice squad by other teams within the past week.

Jalen Parmele Joins Ravens as Dolphins Lose Another Practice Squad Player

Miami's personnel department sure must be doing something right. For the third time in three weeks, the Dolphins have had a practice squad player sign to another team's active roster.

This time it's running back Jalen Parmele, a 2008 sixth-rounder out of Toledo. The 5-11, 220-pound Parmele began the season on the Dolphins' active roster before being waived and added to the practice squad in late September.

If you follow this here blog, you initially found out about this breaking news Monday evening. It took the media about another 24 hours to pick up on the story. Go ahead and say it: I'm the man.

Background

A four-year letterman at Toledo, Parmele started each of his final two seasons and was a first-team All-MAC selection both times. As a senior, Parmele rushed for a career-high 1,511 yards and 14 touchdowns. He finished his collegiate career with 3,119 yards and 29 total touchdowns.

At the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine in February, Parmele posted a 4.47-second 40-yard dash. At his Pro Day on Feb. 28, he measured in at 5-foot-11 3/8 and 226 pounds. He ran the short shuttle in 4.44 seconds, short cone drill in 6.95 second and had a 41 1/2-inch vertical leap. On Apr. 15, Parmele met with the Miami Dolphins for a pre-draft visit.

The Dolphins selected Parmele with the first of three sixth-round picks (176th overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft. He signed a contract with the team on May 10 and was assigned No. 31.

Parmele appeared in all four preseason games in 2008, rushing for a team-high 123 yards and one touchdown on a 5.9-yard average. He had a long of 80 yards and lost one fumble.

After initially making the active roster following the preseason, Parmele was inactive for the team's first three regular season contests. He was waived on Sept. 24 when the team signed tight end Joey Haynos. The Dolphins re-signed Parmele to the practice squad the following day.

Analysis

First, just to answer some questions I've seen on forums and such, the Dolphins get no compensation from Baltimore for signing Parmele. Practice squad players are essentially free agents and can be signed to another team's active roster any time. You get nothing in return and you can't block it. The only thing you can do is offer that player a promotion to your own active roster (and I doubt Miami did in this case), but it's still up to the player to accept it.

I'm disappointed to see Parmele signed, but the move has little immediate impact on the Dolphins. The team has three capable running backs (Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobbs) and it would have taken multiple injuries for Parmele to get on the active roster and see the field.

In the long-term, I would have preferred to see Parmele stay because I think he has some potential as an NFL backup or even a fill-in starter. I'm not sure he'll ever be a starter in the NFL, but he does have some ability and it would have been nice to keep him around and develop as a backup.

That being said, Parmele was not that great of a prospect and running back is the easiest position in the game to replace. There will never be a shortage of potential backup running backs, and in all likelihood Parmele will be available at some point over the next year (and possibly even this season) if the Dolphins like him enough to bring him back.

The Dolphins do have one running back still on the practice squad in fellow sixth-rounder Lex Hilliard out of Montana. However, I'm a much bigger fan of Parmele's and I don't see Hilliard as having much of an NFL career. He doesn't have that natural running ability that Parmele does and might be more of a fullback than a tailback.

As stated in the intro, the Dolphins have now had three practice squad players signed by other teams in as many weeks. Tackle Kirk Barton was signed by the Bengals two weeks ago while the Saints re-signed linebacker Rob Ninkovich last week in the wake of Will Smith's suspension. It's a credit to the Dolphins' front office that they have so many players other teams like.

With the loss of Parmele, the Dolphins now have two open spots on the practice squad. (The vacancy left by Ninkovich has yet to be filled.) As of yet, the Dolphins have not made any roster moves to fill these vacancies.

One player I'd love to see signed to the practice squad is running back Marcus Mason, whom the Jets waived yesterday. The 2008 preseason rushing leader with Washington, Mason is a talented back and definitely has the potential to be an NFL backup at the very least.

However, I'm not sure he'd come to Miami, as the Jets likely have an interest in adding him to their practice squad. Mason would probably choose New York over Miami in that case, as he has experience in their offense and they have only two backs on the active roster to Miami's three.

Breaking News: Dan Carpenter Named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

Dolphins rookie placekicker Dan Carpenter has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 14. I'm not sure how a 3-for-4 day and one horrible kickoff earns your player of the week honors, but oh well.

An undrafted free agent out of Montana, Carpenter earned the Dolphins' placekicking job over incumbent Jay Feely during camp. The 23-year-old Carpenter is 19-of-22 (86.4 percent) on field goals and 30-of-30 on extra points. He set a career-long with a 50-yard field goal against Buffalo in Week 14.

Monday, December 8, 2008

2008 Week 14 Recap: Dolphins at Bills

The Dolphins played their best game in a month, dominating the Buffalo Bills on their way to a 16-3 victory. With the win, the Dolphins advance to 8-5 and into a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East with the Jets and Patriots. If the Dolphins win out, they win the division. It's as simple as that.


Offense
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Defense & Special Teams
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Breaking News: RB Jalen Parmele to be signed by Ravens

I've just learned from rookie running back Jalen Parmele that he's being signed off the Dolphins' practice squad to the Baltimore Ravens' active roster. The Ravens' running backs got banged up last night against Washington as both Willis McGahee and Ray Rice left the game with injuries.

A sixth-round pick out of Toledo, Parmele (5-11, 220) began the season on the Dolphins' active roster but did not appear in a game. He was waived in late September when tight end Joe Haynos was signed. The Dolphins subsequently re-signed Parmele to the practice squad.

The Dolphins now have six practice squad players, leaving them two open spots to fill. Linebacker Rob Ninkovich was signed off the practice squad by the New Orleans Saints last week.

I'll have a more detailed article once the transaction becomes official, but I just wanted to post the update as quickly as possible. It's a shame to see Parmele go and he could be back later, but I'm glad he's getting a better opportunity to play and make significantly more cash! (Practice squad players make around $84,000 a year while the active roster minimum salary for a rookie is $295,000!)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Week 14 Game Predictions

It had to end sometime. After four weeks of 12 picks correct, I totally laid an egg last week getting only half (8 of 16) correct in Week 13. Don't hate me, I'll try to do better this week.

Last week's record: 8-8
Season record: 121-71 (63.0%)

Bears over Jaguars - The Jaguars have just been so disappointing this year and I don't see them going up to Chicago and beating the Bears in December.

Vikings over Lions - Do I really need to give any explanation here?

Packers over Texans - Matt Schaub and Steve Slaton have the potential to put up a lot of points, but I'll take the Packers on the frozen tundra.

Titans over Browns - Ken Dorsey doesn't have a chance in hell of beating this defense.

Colts over Bengals - I can't imagine the Bengals standing in the way of the rolling Colts.

Saints over Falcons - I've been burned picking against the Falcons quite a few times this year, but I think Drew Brees & Co. take care of business at home.

Giants over Eagles - Plaxico Burress or no, the Giants are playing too well right now to pick against them.

Dolphins over Bills - To be honest, this game scares the hell out of me. But Buffalo's just been playing so poorly lately and I have to have faith in my team.

Broncos over Chiefs - Tyler Thigpen and Kansas City does have the potential to get into a shootout with Denver, but I think the Broncos even the season series this week.

Jets over 49ers - San Francisco just isn't good enough on either side of the ball to stop the Jets.

Patriots over Seahawks - New England's defense is pretty banged up and unimpressive, but Seneca Wallace still won't be able to do enough.

Cardinals over Rams - St. Louis doesn't have the defense to stop Arizona's passing attack.

Steelers over Cowboys - A huge game for Dallas and the best matchup of the week, but I like the Steelers at home.

Ravens over Redskins - Washington hasn't been that impressive lately, and I think Baltimore's defense handles them enough to get a win.

Panthers over Buccaneers - A tough divisional matchup to pick, but I say Steve Smith leads the Panthers to a victory.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chris Hannon Contract Info

Updating a previous report, recently claimed wide receiver Chris Hannon has a two-year contract with base salaries of $295,000 (2008) and $385,000 (2009). Because he currently has no accrued seasons, he will be an exclusive-rights free agent in the 2010 offseason if he plays out the contract.

As always, you can check out all Dolphins players' contract details from the Salary Info link at the top of the site.

Thursday Night Pick

Chargers over Raiders - San Diego's been a major disappointment this year, but I still like them against Oakland.

Dolphins Claim WR Chris Hannon Off Waivers From 49ers

Two days after placing guard Justin Smiley on injured reserve with a broken leg, the Dolphins have filled their vacant roster spot by claiming wide receiver Chris Hannon off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers. Undrafted in 2006 out of Tennessee, the 49ers waived Hannon on Dec. 2 after he spent one game on the active roster.

Background

A Sarasota native, Hannon was a four-year letterman for the University of Tennessee from 2002–2005. His most productive season came as a sophomore in 2004 when he caught 21 passes for 319 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished his collegiate career with 69 receptions for 850 yards and 12 touchdowns.

On his pre-draft measurables, I'll just turn it over to KFFL.com:
"...Tennessee WR Chris Hannon measured a height of 6-3 and a weight of 207 pounds at his Pro Day. He ran the 40-yard dash with times of 4.38 seconds and 4.37 seconds. He was able to complete the short shuttle in 4.29 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.24 seconds. He finished with a 36 1/2 inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-7 long jump."
Hannon went undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft and was subsequently signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent. He caught two passes for 54 yards in the 2006 preseason and split the regular season between the practice squad and the active roster, but did not see any game action. He caught seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in the 2007 preseason but was waived by the Chiefs during final cuts on Sept. 1.

Hannon spent the 2007 regular season on the practice squad of the Carolina Panthers and was signed to a future contract in 2008. He caught three passes for 75 yards and a touchdown during the 2008 preseason but was waived on Aug. 30.

The San Francisco 49ers signed Hannon to their practice squad the following day. He was promoted to the active roster on Nov. 29 after the team waived linebacker Ahmad Brooks but was inactive for the team's No. 30 contest against the Buffalo Bills. The team waived Hannon and re-signed Brooks on Dec. 2.

Hannon was claimed off waivers by the Dolphins on Dec. 3 and assigned No. 14, which was previously worn by undrafted rookie receiver Jayson Foster in camp. The Dolphins play Hannon's old team, the 49ers, on Dec. 14.

Analysis

As I mentioned in my article on the Smiley injury, the Dolphins replaced Greg Camarillo with an offensive lineman last week so it was possible the Dolphins might add a fifth receiver to fill Smiley's spot. Being the genius I am, it appears I was right on the money.

It's hard to know at this point if there's any hidden motivation behind Miami's claiming of Hannon. It's a coincidence to say the least that the Dolphins play Hannon's former team in only 10 days, though not being an NFL player I'm not exactly sure how much of an advantage can be gained from adding a team's former player and picking his brain.

The first publication to report the claiming, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, points out this coincidence but fails to realize the Dolphins only had four receivers and had carried five all season until Greg Camarillo went on injured reserve last week.

Whatever the reason, practice squad receiver Anthony Armstrong has to be disappointed he has yet to get the call to the active roster. The former arena league speedster showed some deep-play ability in the preseason and has been on the practice squad since the regular season began.

Still, it's not hard to see Hannon's appeal and the Dolphins' interest could very well be legitimate. He's sort of out of the Brandon London mold with good size (6-3, 205) and has very good speed. He wasn't hugely productive in college but has gained valuable experience in the NFL over the past few years on practice squads and on the preseason.

Nevertheless, Hannon's impact on the team in the immediate future might be near-nonexistent. The team usually only dresses four receivers on game days so he's not likely to play against Buffalo. Beyond that, he might start out on special teams and is probably not close to seeing game action on offense.

Finally, in a fact that may only interest me, the Dolphins currently have no receiver on the active roster or practice squad with a number in the eighties. Greg Camarillo is the only player under contract with such a number, while every other receiver has a number in the teens.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Breaking News: WR Chris Hannon Claimed Off Waivers

In the interest of having Dolphins news here on the blog before I actually write up a detailed article on it, I wanted to post that the Dolphins have claimed wideout Chris Hannon off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers.

Hannon gives the Dolphins five receivers again (they'd gone with four since Greg Camarillo's injury two weeks ago) and fills the roster spot vacated by guard Justin Smiley, who is now on IR. As always, I've have an article analyzing the move which should be up early Thursday afternoon.

Practice Squad LB Rob Ninkovich Signed by Saints

A week after practice squad offensive lineman Kirk Barton was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals, the Miami Dolphins have lost another player to a team's active roster. The New Orleans Saints signed linebacker Rob Ninkovich to their active roster today in an effort to replace recently-suspended defensive end Will Smith.

Background

A fifth-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in 2006, Ninkovich spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve after suffering a torn ACL early in the regular season. Another knee injury forced him to miss the following preseason and the Saints eventually waived him prior to the 2007 regular season.

Ninkovich was then claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins. He saw action in four games, recording two tackles, while being inactive for 12 others.

Despite leading the team with two sacks in the 2008 preseason, Ninkovich was waived on Aug. 31 and re-signed to the practice squad. He was eventually promoted to the active roster on Nov. 15 when guard Matt McChesney was placed on injured reserve. Ninkovich played special teams against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 16 but did not record any tackles. He was waived on Nov. 20 when linebacker Erik Walden was signed. The Dolphins subsequently re-signed him to the practice squad.

Analysis

I liked Nink's potential as a backup outside linebacker in the 3-4 (or defensive end in the 4-3), but this isn't a huge loss for the Dolphins. Barring an outburst in play with New Orleans, Ninkovich will probably be available at some point this season or next so the Dolphins will be able to get him back down the road if they want.

The Dolphins now have an open spot on the practice squad as well as one on the active roster, as guard Justin Smiley was predictably placed on injured reserve yesterday. As always, you can check out my updated projected depth chart at the top of the site.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Al Johnson Contract Info

Updating a previous report, recently-signed center Al Johnson received a one-year contract from the Dolphins worth $605,000. Because he was signed during the season, he will received a prorated portion of the contract. He will be an unrestricted free agent in the 2009 offseason.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dolphins Lose Guard Justin Smiley For Season

After going much of the 2008 season without any significant injuries, the Dolphins have lost their second offensive player in as many weeks. With problems on the right side of the line throughout the season, the Dolphins lost starting left guard Justin Smiley to a season-ending broken leg against the Rams in Week 13.

Background

A consensus first-team All-SEC selection at Alabama in 2003, Smiley was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round (46th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. He appeared in all 16 games for the 49ers as a rookie including nine starts at right guard.

Smiley went on to start all 16 games for the 49ers at left guard in 2005, then all 16 games at right guard in 2006. He started the team's first eight games at right guard in 2007 before a shoulder injury forced him to miss the remainder of the season.

An unrestricted free agent in the 2008 offseason, Smiley became the first free agent to sign with a team after he agreed to terms with the Dolphins just over half an hour into the free agency period. On March 1, he signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Dolphins that included a $9 million signing bonus.

Originally slated to play right guard, Smiley was moved to left guard during the offseason. He started all four preseason contests and the team's first 12 regular-season contests at left guard.

On Nov. 30, Smiley suffered a broken right leg in the first quarter of a game against the St. Louis Rams. He will be placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

Analysis

Without question this is the worst injury the Dolphins have suffered all season. They lost starting right guard Donald Thomas after the season opener, but the promising rookie was completely unproven and there is no way to know how he would have performed. The team also lost wideout Greg Camarillo to a torn ACL last week, and though he's been Miami's most consistent receiver the team does have Davone Bess to fill the void in addition to two great running backs.

A tremendous free-agent pick-up in the offseason, Smiley had been the Dolphins' most reliable and consistent lineman this season. An experienced veteran, Smiley never shied away from helping his younger linemates and has been instrumental in the development of rookie offensive tackle Jake Long.

Early reports on Smiley's injury have been wholly negative. The Sun-Sentinel reports Smiley broke his leg near the ankle and will likely need a pin inserted. I've also seen reports about some potential ligament damage. While it's fortunate Smiley's never had any problems in this area before, it sure sounds like a nasty injury and it's impossible to know at this point what kind of timetable we're looking at for a return. If/when he gets back healthy, he'll no doubt regain a starting job.

The worst part about losing Smiley at this point is the fact that the team is already struggling on the offensive line. The unit was riddled with penalties yesterday against St. Louis and failed to establish a productive rushing game against one of the NFL's worst defenses.

Replacing Smiley in the Rams game was second-year man Andy Alleman, a waiver claim at the beginning of the season who had been splitting time with Ike Ndukwe at right guard as of late. Alleman struggled against St. Louis but has the potential to be a good pulling guard, which is what Miami needs in Smiley's absence.

Alleman will surely get the first crack at replacing Smiley long-term, but it's unclear if he'll be able to hold onto the job. Recently-signed center Al Johnson has guard experience and could push for time, while (as I expected) offensive tackle Brandon Frye has been working at guard since being signed off the Texans' practice squad earlier in the season.

If I had to guess, I'd say we'll see Alleman start the team's next game against Buffalo and possibly even the week after. If he performs well, he could keep the job though the end of the season. If not, I think we'll see Johnson or Frye in the mix first. Don't be fooled by the Dolphins' depth chart either: rookie fourth-rounder Shawn Murphy still isn't close to getting on the field.

Finally, on the issue of who will take Smiley's spot on the active roster, it remains to be seen if it will be an offensive lineman. The team currently has no offensive linemen on their practice squad after Kirk Barton was signed by the Bengals, and another potential candidate (Evan Mathis) has since signed with Cincinnati after being released by Miami.

Remember, the Dolphins have at times kept only nine lineman (they have 10 now) and added one when wide receiver Greg Camarillo was placed on I.R. last week. That being the case, it's possible the Dolphins could choose to add a fifth receiver (such as practice squad player Anthony Armstrong) in lieu of a tenth lineman.

Dolphins-Rams Video Highlights

Here are a couple video highlights from the Dolphins' win over the Rams in Week 13:


Ronnie Brown touchdown run



Andre' Goodman game-clinching interception