Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dolphins re-sign six to future contracts

With the Miami Dolphins' season over, practice squad contracts have expired and those players are now free agents.

As expected, the Dolphins have re-signed six of the seven players that finished the season on their practice squad to future contracts for 2010.

Those six players—running back Tristan Davis, guard Ray Feinga, wide receiver Taurus Johnson, tight end John Nalbone, safety Nate Ness, and wide receiver Julius Pruitt—will join the Dolphins' 80-man offseason roster in hopes of competing for a roster spot in training camp.

Left unsigned was cornerback Will Billingsley—a second-year player who finished the season on the practice squad/injured list. It's unknown if it was this injury, an October arrest stemming from a domestic incident, or another reason that caused him not to be re-signed.

With the signings, the Dolphins' 80-man offseason roster now stands at 58 players under contract. This does not include the nine pending free agents I listed yesterday.

Here is a quick look at the six players re-signed today and the challenges they'll likely face in making the Dolphins' roster in 2010. All should be considered long-shots and aren't even locks to make it to training camp, let alone final cuts.
  • RB Tristan Davis — Davis (6-1, 191) was an undrafted rookie out of Auburn, playing part of the preseason with the Detroit Lions before spending time on their practice squad. He has almost no chance to make active roster behind Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobbs, Lex Hilliard and Kory Sheets, though he has experience as a kickoff returner and could try to compete there as well.
  • OG Ray Feinga — Feinga (6-4, 336) was an undrafted rookie out of BYU, spending part of the offseason with the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers. A two-time first-team All-Mountain West selection, Feinga will try to push Andrew Hartline for a reserve guard spot.
  • WR Taurus Johnson — Johnson (6-1, 205) was an undrafted rookie out of South Florida, spending the preseason with the Kansas City Chiefs and part of the regular season on the Lions' practice squad. He had an unimpressive college career and will have a difficult time making the roster with most of the spots already spoken for.
  • TE John Nalbone — Nalbone (6-4, 255) was drafted by the Dolphins in the fifth round out of Monmouth in 2009. He spent part of the season on the active roster, but did not appear in a game and finished the season on the practice squad. He'll compete with Kory Sperry for the No. 3 job, and could have a much better chance of making the team if the Dolphins don't retain impending restricted free agent Anthony Fasano. However, Nalbone clearly hasn't developed like the Dolphins had hoped and his draft status won't get him handed anything.
  • FS Nate Ness — Ness (6-1, 190) was an undrafted rookie out of Arizona, spending offseason or practice squad time with the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks. Ness spent Week 11 vs. the Carolina Panthers on the Dolphins' active roster, but did not play and has otherwise been on the practice squad. He'll try to compete for a roster spot as a reserve cornerback/free safety/special-teamer and could be helped if Gibril Wilson is released.
  • WR Julius Pruitt — Pruitt (6-2, 210) was an undrafted rookie out of Ouachita Baptist, signing to the Dolphins' practice squad on Sept. 6 after going unsigned in the offseason. Pruitt has good size and 4.4 speed, but he's very raw coming out of a Division II school and probably isn't ready to contribute. Like Taurus Johnson, Pruitt has almost no chance of making the final roster out of camp and could be destined for the practice squad yet again.