Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dolphins extend Garner, Culver; make practice squad moves

The Miami Dolphins have locked up two key backups for the 2012 season, agreeing to contract extensions with offensive lineman Nate Garner and safety Tyrone Culver.

Both Garner and Culver were entering the final years of their deals. Culver will receiver $700,000 in 2011 and $800,000 in 2012, while Garner will earn $800,000 in 2011 and $1.4 million in 2012.

While neither player is guaranteed to make the team again next year, it's a promising sign for both that the team wanted to make an effort to at least keep them around. Culver has been a quality backup safety for the past three seasons, while Garner has emerged as the Dolphins' top backup lineman due to his versatility.

Culver is not a realistic option to ever earn a starting job, but he does provide some insurance for camp in 2012 with Yeremiah Bell entering his age 33 season and being a potential cap casualty in the offseason with a salary of $4.3 million in the final year of his deal next season.

Now 26, Garner returns from a foot injury that forced him to miss the entire 2010 campaign. He sits on the depth chart as the primary backup to Marc Colombo at right tackle, but he's worked at all five positions during his time with the team and should see significant playing time as a reserve in 2011.

It's also not out of the question that Garner could draw some starts this season, depending on how healthy Colombo and Vernon Carey remain and how well they perform. Colombo is coming off a down year in Dallas and looked shaky in the preseason, while Carey's transition to guard isn't looking all that promising either.

In other Dolphins contract news, newly signed lineman Ryan Cook received a two-year contract with base salaries of $685,000 this season and an even $1 million next year. Tight end Dante Rosario received a one-year contract worth $685,000.

Feinga, Russell added to practice squad

As expected, offensive guard Ray Feinga was re-signed to the team's practice squad after clearing waivers Saturday. He was let go two days earlier when the Dolphins re-signed running back Larry Johnson as insurance to an injured Daniel Thomas.

Feinga vastly outperformed disappointing former third-rounder John Jerry in the preseason and even worked at tackle some, but only Feinga was practice-squad eligible and the Dolphins were correct in assuming he'd clear waivers.

To make room for Feinga, the Dolphins released undrafted rookie guard Garrett Chisolm from the practice squad. The South Carolina alum spent most of the preseason on the non-football injury list after tearing his ACL during his senior season. He could be back down the line.

The team also signed second-year safety Anderson Russell to the practice squad. He takes the place of tight end Brett Brackett, who was let go with an injury settlement after breaking his hand in practice.

Measuring in at 6-feet and 205 pounds, Russell was a four-year starter at Ohio State and appeared in two games with the Redskins last season after being signed as an undrafted free agent. He was waived during final cuts on Sept. 3.

Russell provides depth for the Dolphins at safety with Chris Clemons currently nursing an injury. Second-year man Reshad Jones is expected to draw the start Monday against New England.

With Clay ailing, Dugan works out

Rookie and projected starting fullback Charles Clay is out against the Patriots with a hamstring injury, but don't expect to see Lousaka Polite back with the Dolphins to replace him.

Lex Hilliard will likely man the spot against New England on Monday, with tight ends Jeron Mastrud, Dante Rosario, or Will Yeatman helping to pick up the slack.

The Dolphins also worked out former Vikings tight end/fullback Jeff Dugan this week, although no signing appears imminent and a roster move is unlikely before tomorrow's season opener.

A seventh-round pick out of Maryland in 2004, Dugan has spent his entire seven-year career in Minnesota. He has started 22 of the 79 games in which he's played, catching 27 passes for 191 yards and three scores while rushing for 23 yards in 11 carries.

The Dolphins appear content with their stable of tight ends as of now, and the 30-year-old Dugan doesn't represent an obvious upgrade anywhere. However, he is your typical blocking H-back type at 6-foot-4 and 258 pounds, so the team may keep him in mind if further injuries occur.

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

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