Monday, August 10, 2009

Dolphins bring in well-traveled wide receiver, kicking competition

With four open spots on the roster entering today, the Miami Dolphins moved to remedy that by signing wide receiver James Robinson and second-year placekicker Connor Barth. Both likely signed two-year contracts for the league minimum.

James Robinson

Robinson (6-3, 193) played his college ball at Butler Community College in Kansas. From there, he went on to play two seasons for the Miami Morays/Florida Frenzy of the National Indoor Football League.

Robinson attended training camp with the Arena League's Las Vegas Gladiators in 2007, but was released on March 20. He landed with the South Georgia Wildcats of af2 later that year, racking up 77 catches for 1,168 yards and 27 touchdowns his rookie season.

Robinson's impressive performance in af2 landed him a spot on the practice roster of the Toronto Argonauts in 2007. He then went on to play for the AFL's Kansas City Brigade in 2008, catching two passes for 11 yards and a score.

After the 2008 AFL season, Robinson re-joined the Argonauts and make the team's active roster. He hauled in 25 passes for 381 yards and a touchdown during his first season with the Argos.

Robinson began the 2009 CFL season with the Argos, catching five passes for 56 yards. He was released by the team on Aug. 5.

Robinson, who first practiced with the Dolphins on Monday, will wear No. 14 for the Dolphins. He becomes the 10th receiver on the Dolphins roster, replacing undrafted rookie Brennan Marion (torn ACL), who previously donned No. 14 before his injury.

Connor Barth

A Virginia native, the 23-year-old Barth enters his second NFL season following a stint with the Kansas City Chiefs as a rookie in 2009. He initially lost out to Nick Novak in the placekicker competition in Kansas City last preseason, but was re-signed on Oct. 21.

Barth performed well for Kansas City as a rookie, going 10-for-12 on field goals and 24-for-24 on extra points. Both his misses came in a Week 15 game against the San Diego Chargers, which the Chiefs lost by one point.

Although he was expected to compete for the Chiefs' placekicking job again in 2009, the team opted to go with rookie seventh-rounder Ryan Succop and consequently released Barth on July 28.

Barth joins fellow second-year man Dan Carpenter as one of two placekickers now on the roster, which stands at 78 players after today's two signings. The team has two more open roster spots they can fill before they reach the current 80-man limit.

Analysis

Say hello to Todd Lowber, v2.0.

Robinson bears a striking resemblance to the former Dolphins wide receiver (waived June 1) as a prospect. He possesses good size at 6-3 and nearly 200 pounds, but is lacking in the route-running and hands departments.

However, Omar Kelly reported today that Robinson ran a 4.29 40-yard dash during his workout with the Dolphins. After that kind of showing, it probably took less than 4.29 seconds for the Dolphins to offer Robinson a contract.

Despite his blazing speed, Robinson is an extremely long shot to make the team. He was very inconsistent in the CFL, and the fact that he was let go by a league with a much lower talent level than the NFL doesn't bode well for his chances of thriving at this level.

With Robinson's physical tools, he's likely competing with players like Anthony Armstrong and Chris Williams for a spot on the team's practice squad. I certainly wouldn't call him the favorite though, as Armstrong's been around for a year now, is having a good camp, and runs pretty well himself.

Now on to Barth.

As I said in my Aug. 9 final roster predictions, I would prefer the team having some competition for Dan Carpenter at placekicker. Looks like I got my wish, as Barth is just that.

Barth doesn't possess the leg Carpenter does, posting only four touchbacks during his time with Kansas City and averaging nearly six yards less on kickoffs than Carpenter did last season.

Nevertheless, Barth is a fairly accurate placekicker, and that has to come first when evaluating the position. According to some reports coming out of camp, Carpenter has missed more kicks already this year than he did all of last year.

Now I'm not saying Barth's going to win the job. Carpenter's probably the better all-around player and is certainly the favorite as the incumbent. Despite his recent struggles, Carpenter was more than adequate last season, and that has to count for something.

Still, Barth's no slouch and it's nice to see the Dolphins used one of their four open roster spots on some competition for Carpenter. At the very least, they'll get a closer look at another kicker in the league, which will come in handy should Carpenter suffer an in-season injury.