Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dolphins waive Micah Johnson; make practice squad moves

In need of one more roster spot with the additions of Erik Walden and Lionel Dotson, the Miami Dolphins waived rookie linebacker Micah Johnson.

Defensive end Clifton Geathers was waived Monday to make room for Walden, but another move was needed when the team signed Dotson off the Broncos' practice squad Tuesday.

An undrafted rookie out of Kentucky, Johnson joined the Dolphins in August after a brief stint with the New York Giants during the offseason.

Johnson was able to impress during his short time with the team, beating out competition J. D. Folsom and Austin Spitler with good play on defense and special teams to earn the No. 4 linebacker job.

Making his NFL debut in last week's season opener against the Bills, Johnson recorded one assisted tackle.

The Dolphins also made a handful of practice squad moves, releasing offensive lineman Andrew Hartline and tight end Nathan Overbay, while signing tight end Dedrick Epps.

With one spot open on the practice squad, it's likely Geathers or Johnson will fill it once they clear waivers.


Dedrick Epps

One of the top high school tight ends in the nation, Epps attended the University of Miami on a football scholarship.

After backing up Greg Olsen as a freshman in 2007 and Chris Zellner in 2008, Epps served years as the Hurricanes' starting tight end during his junior and senior seasons alongside Jimmy Graham.

Epps caught 22 passes for 304 yards and two touchdowns as a junior, while adding 19 receptions for 247 yards and three scores during his senior campaign. He finished his career with 49 receptions, 634 yards, and six touchdowns.

Selected by the San Diego Chargers in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Epps (6-4, 253) appeared to be headed for the team's No. 3 tight end job before the signing of veteran Randy McMichael in June.

After appearing in all four of the team's preseason games and catching two passes for 24 yards, Epps was waived by the Chargers during final cuts.

Coincidentally, while a former Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael kicked Epps off the active roster, another former Dolphins tight end—Kory Sperry—took a Chargers' practice squad spot that could have been his.

In Miami, Epps will join fellow rookie Jeron Mastrud as one of two tight ends on the Dolphins' practice squad—assuming Mastrud sticks around.


Analysis

It doesn't surprise me to see Johnson get the ax here, as Bobby Carpenter had leap-frogged him at inside linebacker and newly re-signed Erik Walden can take his spot on special teams.

Johnson has limited upside, but he's done well during his time in Miami. He should clear waivers and be re-signed to the practice squad.

While there is only one practice squad spot currently available for either Geathers or Johnson, I'd prefer to see both re-signed and another player let go—perhaps linebacker Austin Spitler.

I like the Epps signing, as he has more upside than Overbay and is an intriguing prospect for the developmental squad. He's not a totally reliable receiver, but he's shown the ability to make tough catches.

Epps is also known for having a mean streak as a blocker, and gives 100% effort in that facet of his game despite not possessing all the bulk for the role.

There is a bit of an injury concern, as he tore his ACL during the Emerald Bowl last year. However, he appears to be fully recovered given his participation with the Chargers, so it might be past him.

As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.


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