Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dolphins release DE Derrick Jones, sign FS Nate Ness to practice squad

The Miami Dolphins made a minor transaction Tuesday, signing safety Nate Ness to the practice squad and releasing defensive end Derrick Jones.

The Dolphins signed Jones to the practice squad on Oct. 7 after Phillip Merling suffered an ankle injury against the Buffalo Bills.

An undrafted rookie out of Arizona, Ness was signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent, and has also had brief stints with the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks.

Background

A California native, Ness began his collegiate career with two seasons at El Camino Community College in Torrance. He earned junior college All-American honors both seasons, as well as a Mission Conference co-Defensive Player of the Year award as a true freshman.

Ness transferred to the University of Arizona in 2007, playing two seasons for the Wildcats. He started six of 12 games as a junior, recording 32 tackles and five interceptions.

As as senior in 2008, Ness recorded 75 tackles, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery.

Ness was signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent in May 2009, but was waived in July.

He then spent just under two weeks with the New York Jets during the 2009 preseason, appearing in three games before being waived on Aug. 31.

Ness was briefly picked up by the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 2, only to be waived during final cuts three days later. He has been a free agent since.

As a practice squad player, Ness will earn $5,200 a week with the Dolphins. He does not count toward the active 53-man roster and can be signed to another team's active roster at any time.

Analysis

It's no secret that Dolphins starting free safety Gibril Wilson has been an epic free-agent bust this season, and at first glance, the signing of Ness might seem to be related.

Still, I don't think this transaction is quite that significant. Tyrone Culver may be and should be a threat to Wilson's job, but Ness is barely on the NFL radar and is a long way from ever contributing at the pro level.

More likely, this is your typical practice squad transaction, just taking a look at another young player. It doesn't hurt that Ness spent part of the preseason with the Dolphins' upcoming opponent in the New York Jets, but I'm not sure how much he can contribute in that area.

As with all practice squad players, Ness is on an extremely short leash and could be cut at any time, be it tomorrow, in a week or whenever. If he lasts the entire season, he could be brought back to compete for a roster spot in 2010, but that's a long way off.