Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dolphins waive four as preseason winds down

As I predicted in my Dolphins-Bucs game observations, the Dolphins have trimmed a few players off their roster despite already being well under the looming 75-man cut-down limit. Waived are wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, nose tackle Louis Ellis placekicker Connor Barth, while fullback Joe Kowalewski has been waived/injured.

The Dolphins' active roster now stands at just 66 players—14 under the current 80-man limit. Teams must cut down to 75 players by Sept. 1, and to the final 53 players on Sept. 5. The Dolphins won't need to take any action until that final cut day, though we could see more sporadic moves such as these between now and then.

Anthony Armstrong

After initially surviving last year's final cuts (until Brandon London was claimed off waivers), second-year receiver Anthony Armstrong has failed to last until the first round of cuts in 2009.

A burner who is lacking in the bulk department at 5-11 and 175 pounds, Armstrong drew rave reviews from some beat writers during minicamps but faded in training camp. The Dolphins clearly didn't give him much of a chance when it came to playing in the preseason and he was stuck on the bottom of the depth chart all August.

Armstrong has two years of practice squad eligibility remaining, but it remains to be seen if either party is interested in such a reunion. Given how early the Dolphins cut him this year and the fact that Armstrong might be bitter about his lack of opportunity, I suspect this split might be permanent.

Armstrong is a solid deep threat and could land on another team's practice squad, but I don't know how much of a future he has at the NFL level. It's a shame the Arena league folded, because he definitely had the tools to be a stud there. If I were him, I'd give the CFL or UFL a shot. He has the skills to play pro ball, even if it's not at the highest level.

Louis Ellis

Out of the four transactions today, this was the one that surprised me the most. When the Dolphins waived Joe Cohen last week, I thought Ellis was a shoo-in for a practice squad spot. Granted that still could happen, but I would imagine if you liked a guy for the practice squad you'd at least keep him until final cuts.

(For reference, all seven of Miami's initial 2008 practice squad players that attempted camp with the team survived the first wave of cuts, so this does not bode well for Ellis.)

Ellis dominated at Division II Shaw University, but the NFL is a whole different ballgame and it's no surprise that Ellis wasn't ready yet. I do like his potential though, and I'd like to see him back on the practice squad as a developmental guy. Miami doesn't have an immediate need at nose tackle, but they'll need one soon and a young, long-term guy is high on the wishlist.

Connor Barth

Barth was brought in to light a fire under second-year kicker Dan Carpenter, who was struggling in camp after a strong showing as a rookie in 2008. Barth got into a few preseason games with Miami, going 2-for-2 on field goals and 2-for-2 on extra points. Unfortunately for Barth, the incumbent Carpenter was just as good and has a slightly stronger leg.

It was worth a shot for the Dolphins to bring in another leg to challenge Carpenter, but in the end Barth was unable to lift himself high enough to force the Dolphins to make a change. Miami should be fine with Carpenter in 2009, and Barth should get some looks from other NFL teams down the road. He's also a candidate to re-sign with Miami if Carpenter were to be injured during the regular season.

Joe Kowalewski

Miami brought in Kowalewski to share reps with starter Lousaka Polite during camp after Chris Brown was waived, but he really never had a shot at making the team. The Dolphins typically only keep one fullback on the active roster, and Polite wasn't going anywhere.

Because Kowalewski was waived/injured, he'll have to pass through waivers before reverting to the Dolphins' injured reserve list. His injury is likely minor and he should be let go with an injury settlement in the coming days.

Kowalewski is solid backup fullback material and would have had a more significant pro career to date if he hadn't lost his practice squad eligibility during his time with the New York Jets. It's unknown at this point if Kowalewski impressed the Dolphins enough to garner consideration for re-signing if Polite were to be injured during the regular season.