Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dolphins place CB Will Allen on IR; re-sign LB William Kershaw

In addition to losing a heartbreaker to the New Orleans Saints in Week Seven, the Miami Dolphins also lost one of their top defenders in starting cornerback Will Allen.

The veteran defensive back suffered a torn ACL in the team's loss to the Saints and has been placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Instead of signing another cornerback to replace Allen on the roster, the Dolphins have re-signed inside linebacker William Kershaw.

Kershaw was with the Dolphins for part of the 2008 season and was waived during final cuts in August prior to the 2009 season.

Background

After starting for two seasons at the University of Maryland, Kershaw went undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent and spent most of his rookie season on the team's practice squad. Kershaw appeared in one regular season game for the Chiefs as well as a first-round playoff game.

Kershaw appeared in the 2007 regular season opener with the Chiefs, but was waived on Sept. 20. He was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad during the season, then signed to the active roster of the Houston Texans.

After appearing in one game for the Texans, Kershaw was waived on Dec. 18 and finished the rest of the 2007 season back on the Eagles' practice squad.

Kershaw signed with the Denver Broncos in February 2008 but waived in April. Kershaw then signed with the New Orleans Saints, but was waived during final cuts on Aug. 30.

After initially joining the Miami Dolphins' practice squad in October 2008, Kershaw was promoted to the active roster in December when fullback Casey Cramer was waived. Kershaw went on to appear in one game for the Dolphins, recording two tackles and a forced fumble on special teams.

Despite a 17-tackle performance with the Dolphins in the 2009 preseason, including a seven-tackle outing in the finale against New Orleans, Kershaw was waived during final cuts on Sept. 5. He has been a free agent since.

Kershaw becomes the team's fifth inside linebacker, along with starters Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele, backup Reggie Torbor, and practice squad rookie J. D. Folsom. He will wear No. 58, which has not been taken since he was last with the team in the preseason.

Analysis

Some say Allen's play this season has been inconsistent or even sub-par, but I think those people are kidding themselves.

Allen has been a fantastic cover corner ever since he arrived in Miami, and was playing well this season. It's not all up to the corners, and I think we all know the safety support from Gibril Wilson and Yeremiah Bell has been lacking this season.

The loss of Allen to the secondary is significant, because he was the only player in the unit that had both experience and great coverage skills. The Dolphins will now go with two talented, albeit young, rookies in Sean Smith and Vontae Davis at cornerback.

Allen's injury also means more playing time for Nathan Jones and Tyrone Culver, who will both see plenty of action in nickel and dime packages. 2006 first-round disappointment Jason Allen could also be forced to play some defense in addition to his normal special teams role.

It wouldn't surprise me to see the Dolphins add a veteran cornerback, though the options out there are limited. One possible, but unexciting option is Joey Thomas, who was with the team last season and is currently a free agent. The Dolphins did seem to prefer Thomas over Jason Allen on defense in 2008.

As for Kershaw, he'll serve the same role he did with the Dolphins late last season, which is that of the No. 4 inside linebacker and a special teams player. He's certainly talented in the latter capacity and could be active on game days as soon as this coming weekend.

Kershaw was likely signed over practice squad linebacker J. D. Folsom because he is more experienced and NFL-ready than the Dolphins' rookie seventh-round pick. Kershaw doesn't have much upside as a defender, but he knows the scheme and has the talent to be a backup in this league.

That being the case, there's no guarantee Kershaw's second stint in Miami won't be short-lived. The Dolphins only have four corners on the active roster, and could choose to bring another one on-board at any time.