Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dolphins re-sign Ryan Baker, Ray Feinga; add new face to practice squad

The Miami Dolphins have brought back a few familiar faces, re-signing free agent defensive lineman Ryan Baker and promoting offensive lineman Ray Feinga from the practice squad.

To make room for the pair, the Dolphins waived/injured defensive lineman Igor Olshansky and outright waived placekicker Shayne Graham.

Olshansky was signed in late September to provide defensive line depth; however, he was reportedly unhappy with his playing time and recorded just seven tackles in eight relief appearances. He was waived/injured with a calf injury and will likely revert to injured reserve before being let go with an injury settlement in the near future.

Graham's departure signals that placekicker Dan Carpenter is over his groin injury and is ready to resume play after a two-game absence. In two games for the Dolphins, the 33-year-old Graham converted all six extra points and went 4-for-5 in field goal attempts, but his lone miss proved costly in the Dolphins 20-19 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.

The Dolphins also made another roster move Wednesday, signing offensive tackle Andre Ramsey to the practice squad to take Feinga's spot. The Dolphins worked out Ramsey and former Florida State tight end Caz Piurowski yesterday, but only Ramsey has been signed thus far.


Ryan Baker

Undrafted out of Purdue in 2009, Baker served as a versatile backup defensive lineman for much of the previous two seasons. He appeared in five games as a rookie after earning a promotion from the practice squad in November and recorded two tackles in five games.

Baker initially began the 2010 season on the practice squad as well before being promoted a few weeks into the season. He went on to play in nine games (zero starts) and record four tackles. In 2011, he appeared in games Weeks 2 and 3 before being waived a week after the addition of Olshansky.

Although he has had numerous workouts since his release from the Dolphins on Sept. 28, Baker has not signed elsewhere and is not eligible for the practice squad. He will presumably wear his old No. 90, although it is currently taken by practice squad nose tackle Isaako Aaitui.


Ray Feinga

Originally signed by the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2009, Feinga also spent time with the Chargers in training camp before being waived during final cuts. He was signed to the Dolphins' practice squad late that season and was re-signed the following offseason.

In 2010, Feinga bounced between the Dolphins' practice squad, active roster, and free agency while serving a four-game suspension imposed by the league. He made his first three regular season appearances in a reserve role that season.

Despite a strong preseason showing, Feinga began the 2011 season on the Dolphins' practice squad once again and was actually released before being re-added in late mid-October. Donning No. 69, he works primarily at guard but also has the ability to play tackle.


Andre Ramsey

A first-team All-MAC selection at Ball State, Ramsey (6-5, 322) was undrafted in 2009 and signed with the Seattle Seahawks before being waived during final cuts. He spent most of his rookie season on the Buffalo Bills' practice squad before earning a late-season promotion and appearing in two contests.


Ramsey did not appear in a game in 2010, spending just over a month on the Jets' practice squad from October to December before finishing the season on the practice squad of the Baltimore Ravens. The team waived Ramsey during final cuts following the 2011 preseason.


Analysis

I like Olshansky's talent significantly better than Baker's, but if Igor was whining in the locker room his production certainly doesn't merit keeping him around any long.

Baker is your typical hard-working blue collar player. He knows the defensive scheme and has the versatility to play both defensive end and nose tackle in Miami's 3-4, but he's unlikely to make more of an impact than he did over his first few seasons with the Dolphins.

Feinga's addition likely means there is concern that starting right guard Vernon Carey may miss this weekend's game against the Raiders after suffering an ankle injury last week in Dallas. Nate Garner (and not John Jerry, as some terrible beat writers would have you believe) would start at Carey's place at right guard if Carey cannot go.

Feinga would then serve as a backup, and it honestly wouldn't surprise me if the Dolphins dressed Feinga on the bench and kept Jerry inactive, as he has been lately. I think the Dolphins may actually like Feinga better than Jerry, but only Feinga is practice-squad eligible and that has allowed the team to keep their disappointing 2010 third-rounder in hopes that he turns this around.

As for Ramsey, his addition gives the Dolphins a little more practice depth now that Garner is in the starting lineup for the time being. He was a left tackle in college but is probably more of a right tackle in the pros, so he'll probably work at Garner's spots in practice while Garner fills in for Carey as the first-team right guard.

Ramsey doesn't offer a whole lot of upside, but he will have this opportunity to serve as an audition for being brought back in 2012 to compete for a roster spot in training camp.

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


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2012 NFL Draft Watch: Week 13

The Dolphins' season is, for all intents and purposes, over. The team has talent in some areas, but has shuffled quarterbacks constantly since Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season and it has become blatantly obvious that the team is in need of a true franchise quarterback in order to be a contender.

With Chad Henne an unrestricted free agent in the 2012 offseason and Matt Moore clearly nothing more than a stopgap option,  it seems a virtual certainty the Dolphins will be selecting a quarterback early next April.

Over the next five weeks, I'll be looking at where the Dolphins are currently projected to pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and how things might shake out in the draft leading up to their selection.



With the Dolphins' loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12, the team fell to 3-8 on the season and improved their draft slot from 8th to 6th. The Dolphins were helped by the Cardinals and Redskins, who both won their fourth games in Week 12.

That being the case, here is how the draft order through the Dolphins' selection looks right now, courtesy of WalterFootball.com:
1. Indianapolis Colts (0-11)
2. St. Louis Rams (2-9)
3. Minnesota Vikings (2-9)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8)
5. Carolina Panthers (3-8)
6. Miami Dolphins (3-8)

I personally don't see any way the Colts pass on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, regardless of what they plan on doing with Peyton Manning. Manning will be 36 next season and will have likely missed the entire season, so you don't pass up on a potential franchise quarterback even if he has to sit for a few years.

Meanwhile, the other four teams picking ahead of the Dolphins look to be fairly set at the quarterback position. The Rams are unlikely to give up on Sam Bradford this early in his career, while the other three teams all took quarterbacks in the first round in 2010, with Christian Ponder to the Vikings, Blaine Gabbert to the Jaguars, and Cam Newton first overall to Carolina.

The Jaguars' firing of Jack Del Rio could mean Gabbert will fall out of favor, but the general manager that drafted him remains in place and thus it seems likely Jacksonville will not be in the market for a quarterback in 2011.

If the first five teams in the draft stay put, the Dolphins should have elite quarterback prospects Matt Barkley (USC), Robert Griffin III (Baylor), and Landry Jones (Oklahoma) to choose from at No. 6. I really don't think you could go wrong with any of these guys, but Barkley would be my guess for the Dolphins' pick as the guy with the most viewed upside.

One thing to be concerned about, however, is that currently projected to pick right behind Miami is the Washington Redskins at No. 7. Like the Dolphins, this is a team that seems guaranteed to take a quarterback early on in this draft, and if the Redskins have their eye on someone in particular, they may not hesitate to leapfrog the Dolphins to ensure they get their man.

That being said, such an event would still leave the Dolphins with two of the four top quarterback prospects to choose from, so they seem to be in pretty solid position right now at No. 6. Most concerning to me is that the team has three very winnable games coming up at home against the Raiders and Eagles followed by a rematch with the Bills in Buffalo.

I could realistically see the Dolphins going either 2-1 or 1-2 during this stretch, but in a season where there isn't anything to play for and they are already on the fringe of where they'd like to be in the draft, I'd prefer to leave the win column unaltered the rest of the way.

Be sure to check back every Tuesday through the end of the regular season for updated information and analysis on the Dolphins' projected 2012 draft slot!


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Monday, November 28, 2011

Dolphins-Cowboys Game Observations

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and was able to take solace in the fact that the Cowboys eeking out a win against our Dolphins prevented us from ruining our draft slot any further for the time being. Being No. 8 is not terrible, but I don't like taking chances and I want a franchise quarterback!

Now on to the observations...


Offense
  • Matt Moore definitely came back down to earth in this one after a handful of good games. He made some nice throws with help from his receivers, but he was off a lot and didn't have good pocket presence. He also probably cost the team the game with a handful of botched snaps that I'd put on Moore rather than Mike Pouncey. On the one before the half that DeMarcus Ware recovered deep in Miami territory, the snap was slightly up and to the left but still 100% catchable. That's on Moore.
  • Reggie Bush was fairly mediocre in this one, although I didn't think he got a whole lot of help from the line. Daniel Thomas only had six carries but is a much better north-south runner. Perhaps they are being careful with the rookie because of his recurring hamstring issues, but he's clearly the better pure runner and needs to be more involved the rest of the way.
  • One week it's Bush with the breakout game, the next it's Charles Clay. This week it was the receivers. Davone Bess hauled in a touchdown and made a great one-handed grab on another play. Brian Hartline caught four balls for 77 yards, including another impressive toe-tapping sideline grab that has become a regular occurrence for him. And then you had Brandon Marshall, who had one of the dominant performances we all know him to be capable of. His long touchdown reception was a thing of beauty, as he was literally being strangled by Terence Newman the final five yards and still managed to make the catch. Even Clyde Gates got in on the action a bit and even had a good block on a running play. It'd certainly be nice to see him more involved over the final month of the season.
  • The was probably one of the worst games I've ever seen Jake Long play as a pro. He wasn't consistently bad, but he was beaten by Ware a few times and incomprehensibly had four penalties between three false starts and a hold.
  • The rest of the line wasn't much better in this one, as the running game never really got going and the right side continues to be an issue. Nate Garner replaced an injured Vernon Carey late in the game and did well, and I honestly don't know why this guy isn't yet starting over Carey or Marc Colombo.

Defense
  • It took DeMarco Murray 22 carries to gain 87 yards and I thought the Dolphins did a fairly decent job of holding him in check. He was productive, but never really had a home run play. Jared Odrick is playing very well right now, and one has to wonder what the team is going to do with extending Kendall Langford and/or Paul Soliai. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Randy Starks becomes a cap casualty at some point down the line.
  • Cameron Wake notched a sack, giving him 6.5 on the season, but he continues to have an underwhelming year. He's struggling against the run at times and you've got to figure that the lack of any other dangerous pass rushers on the roster has hurt Wake's productivity now that teams know all about him.
  • Kevin Burnett was all over the place in this one, potentially playing with a little extra motivation against the team that drafted him. He was good in coverage and easily outshadowed Karlos Dansby with 12 tackles to two.
  • Both Vontae Davis and Sean Smith made nice plays on interceptions early in the game and it's great to finally see the Dolphins actually coming through on turnover opportunities. Despite Laurent Robinson's two-touchdown day, I like that Dez Bryant was shut down for most of the game. You also can't totally pin Robinson's second touchdown on Smith, who chased the receiver all over the field as Tony Romo had infinite time to throw.
  • I'm still not sure who the free safety should be, but it shouldn't be Tyrone Culver. He just doesn't have the upside or athleticism to make any big plays. I like Reshad Jones the best of the bunch and I think we'll continue to see him more down the stretch. On a side note, glad to see Culver was fined $20,000 for his senseless and dangerous hit on Stevie Johnson from last week's game.

Special Teams
  • Shayne Graham was solid going 4-for-5, but in a one-point game that missed 47-yarder ends up being huge. His kickoffs are also fairly unimpressive, though I still can't tell if the team is perhaps aiming for returns over touchbacks. Graham is a good kicker but he won't be long for the team once Dan Carpenter is healthy.
  • Another week, another nice day for Brandon Fields. Two of his four punts landed inside the 20 (he ranks second in the NFL in the category) and had a long of 58 yards. When you watch punters for other teams, you realize just how good Fields really is.
  • Clyde Gates average a rock-solid 30 yards on three kickoff returns and I'm glad he's the man with the job right now. With some better blocking and a little luck, he can definitely take one all the way. Davone Bess, on the other hand, remains useless in this category.

Conclusion

Dolphins fans desperate for some consistency at quarterback have been hoping Matt Moore is the answer, but I think this game and his overall performance this season show that at best he's a short-term starter. He's under contract through 2012 and is probably the ideal guy to begin the season as the starter while our likely high draft pick sits and waits in the wings.

There is no doubt the Dolphins are playing better football lately, but this game showed that their recent winning streak was a bit of luck from facing some bad teams. The Dolphins still have their offensive miscues and areas where they just aren't executing (run blocking, pass rush, etc.).

That's all the more reason why I'm hoping the Raiders and the rest of the teams on the Dolphins' remaining schedule can come out on top. The Dolphins have some good pieces and aren't in Colts territory as far as bad teams go, but a franchise quarterback is what is really needed and the best way to get one is with a high draft pick next April.


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Saturday, November 26, 2011

2011 Week 12 Game Predictions

I hope everyone is having a nice holiday weekend. I had the good fortunate of spending time with my family, watching the Dolphins finally lose another game to help their draft pick status, and get all three Thanksgiving Day picks correct. Hopefully I can continue into Sunday...

Last week's record: 11-3
2011 season record: 108-55 (66.3%)

Falcons over Vikings — The 6-4 Falcons haven't been all that impressive this season, but the Vikings are downright terrible and won't even have Adrian Peterson in this one. Atlanta should win easily.

Bengals over Browns — Cleveland is finally getting their backfield healthy, but the Bengals are playing better football this season and I have to go with Andy Dalton and Cincinnati at home.

Titans over Buccaneers — Both of these teams are fairly mediocre, but I like Tennessee a bit better thanks to Matt Hasselbeck's sound play. I also think Chris Johnson has a bit of a breakout game to help the Titans win this one.

Panthers over Colts — As much as I'd like to see Indy win this one and at least look like they aren't a lock for Andrew Luck, they are just playing abysmal football right now. I have to go with a Carolina team that has at least shown signs of life in 2011.

Rams over Cardinals — I think it's about time Sam Bradford got back on track, so I like him to have a good game in St. Louis against the Cardinals.

Jets over Bills — New York is vastly overrated, but Buffalo is playing terribly right now and has lost Fred Jackson for the season. The Jets will win this game if they play solid, mistake-free football tomorrow.

Texans over Jaguars — The switch from Matt Schaub to Matt Leinart seems like a big one and it probably is, but I still like the Texans' offense overall. If they can still run the ball and Matt Leinart can keep things simple, Houston should be able to pick up the W.

Raiders over Bears — With Caleb Hanie in at quarterback for the Bears, I like this team's chances to win a lot less. Carson Palmer looks like the guy he was in his prime and will lead the Raiders to victory in my opinion.

Seahawks over Redskins — The Redskins held the game close against Dallas this week, but I don't like their chances traveling across the country and still playing without a reliable quarterback.

Patriots over Eagles — New England's defense is still a serious concern, but I like their offense to out-shoot Vince Young and the Eagles.

Chargers over Broncos — Tim Tebow is beyond terrible and I refuse to believe all this crap about him being a "winner." Eventually it's going to catch up with him and I think the Chargers score more points

Steelers over Chiefs — I expect Kyle Orton to be starting by Week 13, but the job this week is Tyler Palko's and I honestly expect him to be torn apart by the tough Steelers' D.

Saints over Giants — The Giants can score and probably have the better defense here, but I like the Saints in a shootout at home.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Day picks

There are three games on the today's Thanksgiving Day docket, including one with our beloved Dolphins, so I thought I'd make a little post on my predictions for each game. Last week I went a strong 11-3, and would have done even better had the Jets not choked against the quarterback-less Broncos.

Before I make my predictions, I just wanted to take this holiday moment to say how thankful I am for my regular followers—all seven of them. (Hi, mom and dad!) I'm also thankful for my beautiful wife since Oct. 22, Kourtney, and thankful for having a great job with a great company—even if it prevents me from writing about the Dolphins as much as I'd like.

Now, on to the games...


Packers over Lions — This certainly isn't your old Lions team I absolutely expect the Packers to give them a game considering how good both offenses are and how the defenses are lacking. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a shootout with 80 or 90 combined points in this one, but I can't bet against the undefeated defending champs.

Cowboys over Dolphins — There is no denying the Dolphins are playing better lately, but at least some of their recent success has to do with the fact that they have been playing some very poor teams at fortunate times. Dallas has more talent on either side of the ball than the Dolphins have seen in a while, and I expect a superior Cowboys team to win at home.

Ravens over 49ers — The Niners have been the better team this season, rather than the wildly inconsistent Ravens. That being said, traveling cross-country on a short week won't be easy, which is while I like Baltimore to win the intriguing Harbaugh Bowl.


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dolphins-Bills Game Observations

The Miami Dolphins are at it gain, winning their third consecutive game much to the delight of some fans and to the chagrin of others like myself that are hoping for a higher draft pick come April.

Now at 3-7, the Miami Dolphins are currently projected to pick eighth in the coming draft, and while only a few of the teams ahead of them are locks to draft a quarterback, falling any further could do some real damage to the team's future and ability to land a franchise signal-caller.

Nevertheless, the Dolphins are playing some pretty good football right now and there are a lot of things to talk about. Here are my observations from the Dolphins' route of the Bills.


Offense
  • It's hard to find much wrong with what Matt Moore did on Sunday. Aside from a few bad throws including one that should have been intercepted on the goal line, he was pretty accurate and made some nice reads and touch passes. He still has a tendency to make a boneheaded mistake here and there like taking a sack instead of throwing it away, but he easily played well enough to win. Under contract for 2012, I'd say he is the most likely candidate to start next year assuming the team drafts a quarterback high.
  • Reggie Bush appears to be back to his old self and really couldn't get anything going on the ground. Daniel Thomas was a little better but wasn't all that impressive either. I would chalk this up to the fact that the Dolphins were well ahead for most of the game so they were running the ball a lot in obviously conservative situations.
  • Brandon Marshall was practically invisible, failing to get his feet in on a potential touchdown and reeling in only one pass for five yards. The rest of the passing game wasn't all that impressive either, although Davone Bess made a nice touchdown grab. Charles Clay was the real standout here and he continues to show that he has good hands and can be a mismatch in the passing game. I don't see him as a pure starter anywhere, but he's a nice piece for an offense to have.
  • Overall this was a very up-and-down performance by the offensive line. They did a good job protecting Moore for the most part, but they didn't block the run particularly well and did a horrible job on the safety play. I would say if anything, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has done a good job of molding the offense into something that compensates for the Dolphins' pass protection issues on the right side.

Defense
  • The Dolphins defensive line did extremely well early, shutting down Fred Jackson until the Bills had to abandon the running game altogether. Players like Kendall Langford, Randy Starks and Jared Odrick also did a nice job of putting pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick from up the middle. Odrick in particular has really come on of late and looks like a quality starter.
  • The pass-rushing linebackers were overshadowed by the big guys up front, but Jason Taylor has a good day with a sack and Cameron Wake drew numerous holds that weren't called. The fear of a Wake hit is also what led to Nolan Carroll's interception. I do think Wake is having a bit of a down year and the lack of long-term prospects at the position is a bit concerning.
  • Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby continue their hot play and that duo is really a big reason why the unit has turned things around oveer the last month. They shoot gaps well and are really stuffing the run. Dansby also contributed to Yeremiah Bell's interception.
  • This was probably one of the best days the secondary has had in a long time. The starting corners played very well and didn't allow much of anything in the passing game, while Vontae Davis also had a huge hit on C. J. Spiller on the goal line for what should have been an easy touchdown.
  • Yeremiah Bell made a nice play on a deflected ball for an interception, but continues to be unfairly slapped with personal foul penalties. On the other hand, Tyrone Culver made a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit that was justifiably flagged, and he'll likely be fined within the next day or so. I'm all for a guy trying to break up a catch, but what Culver did was stupid and dangerous to both the receiver and himself.

Special Teams
  • The Dolphins' stellar offense didn't result in a field goal attempt all game, but injury fill-in Shayne Graham nailed all five extra points and looks completely capable in the interim. He didn't boom his kickoffs very far, but I think this was intentional and the Dolphins did a good job of covering kick returns.
  • Brandon Fields' average of 39.6 punts may not look impressive, but he most certainly was with a long of 64 and five of his seven punts landing inside the 20-yard line. He has become consistently great and if he's not the best punter in the league, he's in the top three.
  • Davone Bess continues to be useless on punt returns, but that's okay. It would be nice to see someone with some home run ability like Clyde Gates get a shot, but obviously the team wants to play it safe and avoid turnovers.
  • For all the offense did to control this game, Chris Clemons made one of the biggest plays of the day by blocking a Brian Moorman punt that Lex Hilliard recovered for a touchdown. It had been 31 years since the team blocked a punt for a touchdown and it was an absolutely huge play.

Conclusion

I think some of the Dolphins' performance of late is a result of playing some bad teams, but it's at least nice to see the team doing good things. The defense is finally playing up to its talent that we all knew it had, and hopefully that can continue into next year. You also can't complete about seeing young players like Charles Clay and Jared Odrick do well.

That being said, I am still not on the bandwagon for winning games because I simply don't see any point. More than they need to beat bad teams to inch closer to mediocrity, the Dolphins need a franchise quarterback and they are currently on the cusp of hurting themselves too much by winning.

The way I see it, the Dolphins probably have two wins at most the rest of the way, and I'd much prefer them to win as few as possible. If we can see some positives from our young players in losing efforts and land a potential franchise quarterback in the draft, then I'll be happy.


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dolphins vs. Bills - Live Chat

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dolphins sign Shayne Graham with Dan Carpenter out

The Miami Dolphins will be without placekicker Dan Carpenter for the first time since the 2007 season, as a groin injury suffered in Friday's practice will keep the four-year veteran out of Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills.

As reported yesterday, the Dolphins brought in veteran free agents Shayne Graham, Rhys Lloyd, and Jeff Reed for workouts. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Dolphins have opted to sign Graham after downgrading Carpenter from questionable to out on Saturday.

To make room for Graham on the roster, the Dolphins have waived cornerback Jonathan Wade. Signed on Nov. 1 to provide secondary depth and play special teams, Wade appeared in the team's previous two games but failed to register a tackle.


Background

Graham originally attended Virginia Tech, where he left the school and Big East Conference as the all-time leading scorer and was a first-team all-conference selection all four years.

Despite his collegiate success, Graham was undrafted in 2000 and spent training camp with the New Orleans Saints. He served as the Bills' placekicker for six games in 2001 replacing rookie Jake Arians, and participated in 11 games for the Panthers in 2002 after John Kasay suffered a sports hernia. Graham also had offseason stints with the Seahawks prior to both the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

Graham signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003 and quickly established himself as one of the more accurate kickers in the league. He converted 86.8 percent of his attempts over seven seasons, highlighted by a Pro Bowl selection in 2005 and a personal-best 91.2 conversion percentage in 2007.

However, Graham's career in Cincinnati ended on a down note with the worst field-goal percentage of his career (82.1) in 2009 and two missed attempts in the Bengals' Wild Card Playoff loss to the New York Jets.

After the Bengals decided against re-signing Graham the following offseason, he joined the Baltimore Ravens in 2010 but was released during final cuts. He had a one-game stint with the Giants on Oct. 16 replacing the injured Lawrence Tynes, going 4-for-4 in extra-point attempts.

Graham signed with the New England Patriots in November after an injury to Stephen Gostkowski, appearing in eight games and converting all 12 of his field-goal attempts. He spent training camp with the Redskins in 2011 but was released on Aug. 14, and spent the end of the preseason with the Cowboys before being released during final cuts.

Now 33, Graham will be joining his 11th pro franchise in the Miami Dolphins and will wear No. 16. He currently ranks as the fourth-most accurate kicker in NFL history behind Nate Kaeding, Mike Vanderjagt, and Robbie Gould with a career field-goal percentage of 85.95.


Analysis

Through all the Dolphins' ups and downs in recent years, one of the most consistent aspects of the team has been its special teams, with long snapper John Denney, punter/holder Brandon Fields, and Carpenter forming a highly-efficient machine. It's safe to say that it's less than ideal to be without Carpenter on any given Sunday.

That being the case, Graham obviously won the three-man tryout yesterday and has an extremely impressive track record throughout his career. It's fair to wonder if his psyche is healthy given how much he's bounced around since the end of the 2009 season, but Graham was flawless for the Patriots last year and clearly still has a leg.

Almost certainly signed to a one-year deal, Graham's stay in Miami should only be as long as Carpenter is unavailable. Graham can obviously still kick in this league, but Miami is committed to Carpenter, who has been very solid throughout his career and is locked up long-term.

Despite Graham's impressive résumé, it's obvious that it's a little bit of a disadvantage for the Dolphins to be without their usual kicker against Buffalo and instead having a stranger working with Denney and Fields. Graham should be able to be effective for the most part, but there is always a greater chance of miscommunications with a newcomer.

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


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Friday, November 18, 2011

Dolphins work out three kickers amid Carpenter concerns

Miami Dolphins placekicker Dan Carpenter reportedly participated in practice Friday morning and has not been on the team's injury report this week, but there appears to be concern over his availability for Sunday's game against the Bills.

NFL.com's Jason La Canfora reports the team worked out free agent kickers Shayne Graham, Rhys Lloyd, and Jeff Reed today. As La Canfora put it on Twitter, “Teams don’t work out Ks on a Fri unless something is up with their guy.”

Enjoying his fourth season as the Dolphins' placekicker after going undrafted out of Montana in 2008, Carpenter has converted 18-of-22 field goal attempts (81.8 percent) and all 14 extra-point attempts on the season while also obliterating his single-season touchback record thanks to the NFL's new kickoff rules.

If Carpenter cannot go Sunday, the Dolphins will likely sign one of the three veterans they brought in today. And while all three have NFL experience, it will certainly put pressure on the Dolphins' shaky offense, as well as on holder Brandon Fields and long snapper John Denney.

Graham, 33, went undrafted out of Virginia Tech in 2000 and bounced around the league for three season before establishing himself as the Bengals' placekicker from 2003 to 2009. He has since resumed his status as a journeyman, attending camp with the Ravens in 2010, serving as an injury fill-in for the Giants and Patriots (converting all 12 attempt in New England) that season, and spending time with both the Redskins and Cowboys this summer. For his career, he has a field-goal percentage of 86 on 242 attempts, but he has not played a full season since 2009.

Undrafted out of Minnesota in 2005, the 29-year-old Lloyd spent offseason time with the Ravens and Packers before finding success in NFL Europa in 2007. He had another brief stint with the Ravens that year before spending the next three seasons as a kickoff specialist for the Panthers. He attended camp with the Giants in 2011 before being waived during final cuts.

The eccentric Reed was undrafted out of North Carolina in 2002 and had a brief stint with the Saints prior to a nine-year stint as the Steelers' field-goal kicker. He converted 81.9 percent of his 259 attempts with the Steelers, earning two Super Bowl rings in wins over the Seahawks and Cardinals. An eccentric personality with some off-field troubles, the Steelers released Reed nine games into the 2010 season after he had converted just 68.2 percent of his field-goal attempts. He finished the season going 9-of-10 with the 49ers and was poised to be the Seahawks' kicker in 2011 before being replaced by Steven Hauschka just before the season.

Graham and Reed seem like the best choices, as Lloyd doesn't have a regular season field-goal attempt to his name. Both Graham and Lloyd have had their ups and downs, but have loads of NFL experience and both had a lot of success in short stints with teams last season.

Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano is likely to update his placekicker's status this afternoon, but it's certainly concerning that the team is looking at free agent kickers so late in the week and it'll be something to watch this Sunday against Buffalo regardless of whether or not Carpenter is out there.


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Miami Dolphins September/October Alumni Update

It's long overdue, but these are all the pro football transactions involving for Miami Dolphins players from September and October 2011 (note: NFL transactions begin Sept. 12):
  • Sept. 2 — The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) signed wide receiver Ryan Grice-Mullen to a contract.
  • Sept. 3 — The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) released wide receiver Ryan Grice-Mullen. 
  • Sept. 4 — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL) activated wide receiver Maurice Mann from the injured list.
  • Sept. 6 — The Toronto Argonauts (CFL) released quarterback Cleo Lemon.
  • Sept. 6 The Virginia Destroyers (UFL) released running back Jesse Chatman and quarterback Pat White.
  • Sept. 7 — The Las Vegas Locomotives (UFL) signed defensive tackle Montavious Stanley to a contract. 
  • Sept. 7 — The Virginia Destroyers (UFL) signed defensive end Quentin Moses to a contract.
  • Sept. 7 The San Jose SaberCats (AFL) re-signed offensive lineman/defensive lineman Mark Lewis to a contract.
  • Sept. 8 — The Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) released defensive back Courtney Bryan.
  • Sept. 8 — The Omaha Nighthawks (UFL) signed wide receiver Phillip Livas to a contract.
  • Sept. 9 — The Virginia Destroyers (UFL) signed linebacker Kelvin Smith to a contract.
  • Sept. 12 — The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) activated linebacker Mark Restelli from the deferred list.
  • Sept. 12 — The Montreal Alouettes (CFL) activated defensive tackle Eric Wilson from the injured list.
  • Sept. 12 — The Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) transferred wide receiver James Robinson to the reserve list.
  • Sept. 12 — The Las Vegas Locomotives (UFL) released wide receiver Tab Perry.
  • Sept. 12 — The Virginia Destroyers (UFL) released linebacker Kelvin Smith.
  • Sept. 13 The Detroit Lions signed tight end Nathan Overbay to the practice squad.
  • Sept. 13 — The San Francisco 49ers signed tight end Justin Peelle to a contract.
  • Sept. 13 — The St. Louis Rams signed quarterback Tom Brandstater to the practice squad.
  • Sept. 13 — The Tennessee Titans release wide receiver Kevin Curtis with an injury settlement.
  • Sept. 13 — The Arizona Rattlers (AFL) re-signed wide receiver Kerry Reed to a contract.
  • Sept. 15 — The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) promoted defensive back Tuff Harris from the practice roster.
  • Sept. 16 — The Toronto Argonauts (CFL) transferred linebacker Robert McCune to the injured list.
  • Sept. 17 — The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) transferred linebacker Mark Restelli to the reserve list.
  • Sept. 19 — The Georgia Force (AFL) re-signed defensive lineman Louis Ellis to a contract.
  • Sept. 20 — The Carolina Panthers signed defensive tackle Frank Kearse off the Dolphins' practice squad.
  • Sept. 21 — The Denver Broncos re-signed tight end John Nalbone to the practice squad.
  • Sept. 21 — The Green Bay Packers signed nose tackle Johnny Jones to the practice squad.
  • Sept. 21 — The New Orleans Saints signed running back Tristan Davis to the practice squad.
  • Sept. 21 — The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) released defensive back Tuff Harris and re-signed him to the practice roster.
  • Sept. 22 — The Denver Broncos re-signed tight end Dante Rosario to a contract.
  • Sept. 22 — The Houston Texans promoted offensive lineman Andrew Gardner from the practice squad.
  • Sept. 22 — The New England Patriots placed linebacker A. J. Edds on waivers.
  • Sept. 22 — The New Orleans Saints released running back Tristan Davis from the practice squad.
  • Sept. 24 — The Denver Broncos released tight end John Nalbone from the practice squad.
  • Sept. 24 — The New England Patriots re-signed linebacker A. J. Edds to the practice squad.
  • Sept. 26 — The Arizona Rattlers (AFL) signed defensive lineman Marquay Love to a contract.
  • Sept. 27 — The Buffalo Bills terminated the contract of tight end David Martin.
  • Sept. 27 — The New Orleans Saints signed offensive lineman Pat McQuistan to a contract.
  • Sept. 27 — The Omaha Nighthawks (UFL) released wide receiver Phillip Livas.
  • Sept. 27 — The Arizona Rattlers (AFL) signed offensive lineman SirVicent Rogers to a contract.
  • Sept. 27 — The Pittsburgh Power (AFL) re-signed offensive lineman Mike Byrne to a contract.
  • Sept. 28 — The Indianapolis Colts signed linebacker A. J. Edds off the Patriots' practice squad.
  • Sept. 28 — The Montreal Alouettes (CFL) signed wide receiver Brennan Marion to the practice roster.
  • Sept. 29 — The Jacksonville Sharks (AFL) re-signed defensive back Ross Weaver to a contract. 
  • Sept. 30 — The Virginia Destroyers (UFL) placed defensive end Quentin Moses on injured reserve.
  • Oct. 1 The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) activated linebacker Mark Restelli from the reserve list.
  • Oct. 1 The Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) activated wide receiver James Robinson from the reserve list.
  • Oct. 4 — The Seattle Seahawks signed tight end John Nalbone to the practice squad.
  • Oct. 4 — The Washington Redskins released cornerback Nate Ness from the practice squad.
  • Oct. 4 — The Virginia Destroyers (UFL) signed defensive end Maurice Fountain to a contract.
  • Oct. 5 — The Oakland Raiders signed running back Nic Grigsby to the practice squad.
  • Oct. 5 — The New York Giants terminated the contract of quarterback Sage Rosenfels from injured reserve.
  • Oct. 5 — The Pittsburgh Steelers signed running back Tristan Davis to the practice squad.
  • Oct. 5 — The Montreal Alouettes (CFL) released wide receiver Brennan Marion from the practice roster.
  • Oct. 6 — The Indianapolis Colts signed tight end Dedrick Epps to the practice squad.
  • Oct. 7 — The Jacksonville Jaguars signed tight end Brett Brackett to the practice squad.
  • Oct. 7 — The St. Louis Rams signed cornerback Nate Ness to the practice squad.
  • Oct. 7 — The Calgary Stampeders (CFL) promoted defensive end Chris McCoy from the practice roster.
  • Oct. 7 — The San Jose SaberCats (AFL) signed wide receiver Taurus Johnson to a contract.
  • Oct. 10 — The Denver Broncos placed defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson on injured reserve.
  • Oct. 11 — The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) transferred linebacker Mark Restelli to the reserve list.
  • Oct. 11 — The Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) transferred wide receiver James Robinson to the reserve list.
  • Oct. 12 — The Jacksonville Jaguars terminated the contract of punter Matt Turk and released tight end Brett Brackett from the practice squad.
  • Oct. 12 — The BC Lions (CFL) released wide receiver Chandler Williams from the practice roster.
  • Oct. 12 — The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) released defensive back Tuff Harris from the practice roster.
  • Oct. 12 — The Toronto Argonauts (CFL) acquired wide receiver Maurice Mann from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
  • Oct. 13 — The Toronto Argonauts (CFL) activated linebacker Robert McCune from the injured list.
  • Oct. 14 — The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) transferred linebacker Mark Restelli to the injured list.
  • Oct. 14 — The Tampa Bay Storm (AFL) signed offensive lineman Julius Wilson to a contract.
  • Oct. 15 The Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) transferred wide receiver James Robinson to the injured list.
  • Oct. 15 — The Toronto Argonauts (CFL) tranferred wide receiver Maurice Mann to the reserve list.
  • Oct. 18 — The Oakland Raiders released running back Nic Grigsby from the practice squad.
  • Oct. 18 — The Pittsburgh Steelers released running back Tristan Davis and linebacker Mortty Ivy from the practice squad.
  • Oct. 18 — The St. Louis Rams released cornerback Nate Ness from the practice squad.
  • Oct. 19 — The Baltimore Ravens signed offensive tackle D. J. Jones to the practice squad.
  • Oct. 19 — The Detroit Lions released tight end Nathan Overbay from the practice squad.
  • Oct. 21 — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats promoted defensive end Rob Rose to the practice roster.
  • Oct. 22 — The Oakland Raiders signed placekicker Dave Rayner to a contract.
  • Oct. 22 — The St. Louis Rams promoted quarterback Tom Brandstater from the practice squad.
  • Oct. 24 — The Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed linebacker Mortty Ivy to the practice squad.
  • Oct. 25 — The Detroit Lions re-signed tight end Nathan Overbay to the practice squad.
  • Oct. 25 — The Oakland Raiders placed placekicker Dave Rayner on waivers.
  • Oct. 25 — The St. Louis Rams re-signed cornerback Nate Ness to the practice squad.
  • Oct. 25 — The Washington Redskins signed running back Tristan Davis to the practice squad.
  • Oct. 26 — The Tampa Bay Storm (AFL) signed wide receiver Chandler Williams to a contract.
  • Oct. 28 — The Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) activated linebacker Mark Restelli from the injured list. 
  • Oct. 29 — The Pittsburgh Steelers promoted linebacker Mortty Ivy from the practice squad.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NFL 2011 Midseason All-Pro Team and Awards

Once again we're at the midpoint of the NFL regular season, and that means it's time to handout some awards and name my midseason all-pro team.


For reference, you can check out my preseason award predictions here and laugh at how off the mark I probably was.

Offense

WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: With a healthy Matthew Stafford, Megatron has helped the Lions turn things around and become an instant playoff contender. He is quite simply the most dominant receiver in the game today and his talent in the red zone is unmatched.

LT Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals: One of the most underrated left tackles in the game for some time now, Whitworth deserves this as he's protected the Bengals' rookie quarterback by allowing just 1.5 sacks so far this season.

LG Mike Iupati, San Francisco 49ers: The mauling former first-round pick has been exactly as advertised, helping Frank Gore continue to find success and protecting Alex Smith in a career year for the passer.

C Matt Birk, Baltimore Ravens: Even at 35, Birk is still one of the most reliable and technically-sound lineman in the game. He continues to play at a high level for the Ravens while clearing holes for Ray Rice.

RG Chris Kuper, Denver Broncos: A largely unheralded former fifth-round pick, Kuper is earning the $29 million extension he received an offseason ago by helping Willis McGahee look 10 years younger.

RT Todd Herremans, Philadelphia Eagles: Protecting Michael Vick has been an issue for the Eagles all season, but Herremans has been steady by allowing just one sack and even seeing time at left tackle due to injury.

TE Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints: There are probably more complete tight ends out there, but Graham has been a huge asset for Drew Brees and has a ridiculous nine-game stat line of 55 receptions, 791 yards and five scores.

WR Wes Welker, New England Patriots: You can certainly make an argument for Steve Smith here and I think we all know how overrated and replaceable I feel Welker is, but you can't really argue with a guy that's on pace for 132 receptions, 1,920 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.

QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: The pressure of being defending Super Bowl champs hasn't gotten to Rodgers and the Packers, as the quarterback is simply a machine right now that can seemingly score at will.

RB Matt Forte, Chicago Bears: You could certainly make a case for LeSean McCoy or Fred Jackson here, but Forte has been a monster in Chicago with 805 yards (second in the NFL) on a 5.4 average while adding 41 catches and 436 receiving yards.

FB Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders: A former undrafted wide receiver, Reece has opened up holes for Darren McFadden and Michael Bush all season while adding 94 yards and two touchdowns of his own as a pass-catcher.


Defense

DE Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings: He's not getting the attention he deserves because of the Vikings' poor record, but Allen is leading the NFL with 12.5 sacks and has been his usual play-maker self with three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and an interception.

DT Domata Peko, Cincinnati Bengals: He might not be a household name, but Peko leads the 6-2 Bengals with 33 tackles and is a major reason the team leads the NFL in fewest yards per carried allowed at 3.3.

NT Isaac Sopoaga, San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Willis gets all the attention, but Sopoaga is doing a great job replacing Aubrayo Franklin at nose tackle and opening up things for the Niners' linebackers to make plays.

DE Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants: Taking advantage of injuries on the Giants' defensive line, the 2010 first-round is experiencing a breakout season with 9.5 sacks and quality run defense.

OLB DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys: Consistently one of the most dominant pass rushers in the game, Ware is at it again with 12 sacks and two forced fumbles halfway through the season.

ILB (3-4) NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers: The Packers' Desmond Bishop has numbers to match him, but San Francisco's run defense has been phenomenal this season and Bowman is even outproducing Pro Bowl teammate Patrick Willis.

MLB (4-3) Curtis Lofton, Atlanta Falcons: My midseason all-pro pick last season as well, Lofton quietly goes about his job at a highly-productive level with 76 tackles on the NFL's No. 5 run defense.

OLB LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh Steelers: Already an elite pass rusher, Woodley is playing his best ball yet and is on pace to shatter his personal high in sacks (13.5) with nine on the year already.

CB Darrelle Revis, New York Jets: After somewhat of a down year (by his standards) due to his holdout and a subsequent hamstring injury, Revis is back to his dominant ways and is simply allowing nothing in the passing game.

CB Johnathan Joseph, Houston Texans: After having the league's worst pass defense a season ago, the Texans have gotten a huge boost from Joseph, who has three picks and 13 deflections for the NFL's No. 7 unit.

FS Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens: His play-making numbers aren't entirely there, but Reed is still dominating as the Ravens' center fielder and Baltimore ranks third in the NFL against the pass.

SS Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers: Similar to Reed, Polamalu doesn't have the eye-popping numbers, but is still playing great ball and is helping the Steelers to another quality defensive season.


Special Teams

K Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys: A couple guys with fewer field goal attempts are still at 100 percent, but Bailey is tied for the lead in field goals made and is 20-for-21 overall.

P Andy Lee, San Francisco 49ers: Lee ranks second in the NFL in both punting average (50.2) and net average (43.3) while downing 13 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

KR Joe McKnight, New York Jets: The only choice for this spot, McKnight is averaging ridiculous 40.2 yards per return and has taken one back 107 yards for a score.

PR Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals: A physical freak at 220 pounds, Peterson leads all full-time punt returners with a 21.8 average and three scores—two more than anyone in the league. His 99-yarder to win the game in overtime last week was one of the players of the year.

ST Corey Graham, Chicago Bears: Consistently one of the best in the league at his craft, Graham has eight tackles on the year and is highly skilled at causing muffed punts and downing balls near the goal line.

Awards

Most Valuable Player — QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: It's hard to argue against Rodgers, who hasn't missed a beat since last year's Super Bowl run. He is the best quarterback in the league right now and makes everyone around him better.

Offensive Player — QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: An easy pick, as Rodgers has completed 72.5 percent of his passes, has 24 touchdowns against just three interceptions, and has an astounding 129.1 quarterback rating that ranks well above anyone in the league.

Defensive Player — CB Darrelle Revis, New York Jets: In eight games, Revis has allowed 12 receptions and opposing quarterbacks have a 2.9 passer rating when throwing his direction. That is the definition of a Defensive MVP.

Offensive RookieQB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: I was not on the Cam Newton bandwagon coming into the season and I remain skeptical about his long-term prospects, but his production thus far is undeniable with a rock solid 87.1 quarterback rating and 18 total offensive touchdowns.

Defensive Rookie LB Von Miller, Denver Broncos: Tied among rookies with the 49ers' Aldon Smith with 6.5 sacks, Miller also has 31 tackles and two forced fumble on the season in an impressive first year.

Comeback Player — QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson is obviously a luxury that boosts Stafford's performance, but after battling injuries and appearing in just three games in 2010, Stafford is a worthy recipient for this award with 2,179 yards, 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions midway through the season.

Head Coach — Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers: I don't think anyone could have predicted this kind of success for Harbaugh in his first year as a head coach in the NFL. His defense is playing at an elite level and he has Alex Smith playing safe, sound football on offense.

Offensive CoordinatorPete Carmichael, Jr., New Orleans Saints: Carmichael has helped Drew Brees get back on track after an interception-filled 2010, and he deserves a lot of credit for how well Jimmy Graham has come along and his utilization of versatile running back Darren Sproles.

Defensive Coordinator — Wade Phillips, Houston Texans: Vic Fangio of the 49ers is a strong candidate, but I have to give credit to Phillips for completely turning around the league's worst pass defense of 2010 while transitioning to the 3-4 scheme very effectively despite questionable personnel.

General Manager — Mike Brown, Cincinnati Bengals: The hands-on owner has gotten a lot of flak in the past, and much of it deserved. However, you have to give him credit for drafting well of late, landing a solid rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton, getting a nice haul for Carson Palmer via trade, and building one of the league's best defenses this season.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Dolphins at Chiefs Game Observations

I haven't addressed the issue much here on the blog due to my overall lack of coverage in the past month, but I am  squarely on the "Suck for Luck" bandwagon and I truly do not want to see the Dolphins win another game this year.

There is obviously a large portion of the fanbase that disagrees with this mentality and will take a W anywhere they can get it, but I feel that I'm looking big picture and that winning a this point in 2011 does nothing for the future.

Whether it's Andrew Luck, Landry Jones, Matt Barkley, or someone else, the Dolphins will draft a quarterback in 2011 and desperately need a franchise player at the position to finally be a consistent contender. And while the 1-7 Dolphins may end up with a high enough pick to get such a player, every win lowers the Dolphins' pick and I'm not for it. The way I see it, going 5-11 in 2011 does nothing for our future and only potentially hurts our chances of landing the player we really need.

So on to the Dolphins' unfortunate win over the Chiefs...


Offense
  • Matt Moore certainly had his best day yet as the Dolphins' starting quarterback, finding open receivers and putting some nice touch on passes. I think he got a lot of support from his protection and the running game as well as Kansas City's porous defense, but he did his job well and avoided mistakes.
  • Reggie Bush had his second consecutive impressive performance, showing nice athleticism on runs and making some great catches. The Dolphins seem to be using him better now and the line is giving him help. I'm still not sold on him as a feature back, despite him having more bulk than guys that have played at an elite level in the league, but it's obvious he has a place on offense.]
  • I wouldn't read too much into Daniel Thomas' lack of activity, as the Dolphins were moving the ball with Bush, up on the Chiefs early, and never really needed to push things with the rookie who probably still isn't 100% with his hamstring injury. There's no doubt Thomas will see the bulk of the carries when healthy, regardless of how Bush is playing.
  • Charles Clay was immensely impressive and showed exactly why he was drafted. (Fan favorite Lousaka Polite remains a free agent two months into the season, FYI...) He blocked well and make some great catches out of the backfield. He may never be a high-producer or even a full-time starter but his versatility is extremely useful.
  • Oddly as good as the Dolphins' offense was, Brandon Marshall was the only receiver that really did much of anything. Marshall made some great catches, blocked well, and overall had a very impressive game. He did an excellent job of getting open and as usual was dangerous after the catch.
  • Anthony Fasano only had two receptions, but he made them count as he hauled in both for scores. Fasano has at times been a frustration for fans, but realistically he's a solid all-around tight end that usually blocked very well and can be a threat in the receiving game too. The presence of Clay only seemed to help.
  • A week after dominating the Chargers' offensive tackles, Tamba Hali was flat-out owned by Jake Long in this one. It's been somewhat of a down year by Long's standards as he's played consistently with a sore knee, but he looked stellar in this one and totally erased the Chiefs' top pass rusher.
  • The rest of the offensive line did a fairly good job too. Vernon Carey isn't the best puller at this point in his career but he blocked the run well, as did Marc Colombo on the right side. Rookie center Mike Pouncey continues to hold his own at center.

Defense
  • It's a little difficult to judge the Dolphins' defensive line because of how little talent the Chiefs' backfield has right now, but overall the unit did an excellent job stuffing the run and putting pressure on Matt Cassel from up the middle. Dexter McCluster gave them some problems at times, but overall I thought Randy Starks, Tony McDaniel, and the rest of the crew were very productive.
  • This was by far the linebacker corps' best game of the season and it is the primary reason the Dolphins won this game so decisively. Cameron Wake did a nice job drawing holds and putting pressure on Cassel, while Jason Taylor got a few hurries as well.
  • That being said, the real story here was Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby, who combined for 23 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Not only did they defend the run well, but they were good in coverage and got better pressure than expected on the quarterback. If they keep playing like this, fans should forget about the vastly overrated Channing Crowder quite soon.
  • It looked like Sean Smith was going to have his hands full with Dwayne Bowe early, but he ended up doing a pretty good job and it's safe to say the Dolphins' constant pressure on Cassel helped immensely. The Dolphins did let Steve Breaston loose a little too much and Nolan Carroll continues to look like the weak link in the secondary. Jimmy Wilson had his usual up-and-down game, as he was beaten at times but impressive at others. That is to be expected with a rookie seventh-rounder, but it's hard not to like his effort and it's nice that he's getting experience in a lost season.
  • Yeremiah Bell had a deserved penalty for a late hit out of bounds, but earlier in the game he was flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver in what was simply a ridiculous call. Bell delivered a solid blow with his shoulder to the receiver's chest (no helmet-to-helmet) in what anyone would consider a purely legal hit. The NFL and its officials are going too far in trying to protect players and at some point they just have to let the game be played. The defenders are tasked with preventing completions and Bell made a perfectly clean action in trying to do so.

Special Teams

  • In a strange turn of events, Dan Carpenter wasn't the focal point of the Dolphins' offense, converting his only attempt of the day. Brandon Fields continued to be the Dolphins' MVP, making a great tackle on special teams while dropping two punts inside the 20 and booming one for 55.
  • Davone Bess continues to be useless on punt returns, even though he did have a whopping long of 15 on the day. I realize that Bess is solely there to catch the ball cleanly and fall forward, but I kind of hate that the team has gone three years without at least trying to put someone back there that could potentially take one all the way. Reggie Bush is not feature back and in all honesty there is no reason he shouldn't be used here.

Conclusion

There honestly isn't much bad to say about the Dolphins today, as everything came together in their first victory of the season and essentially the whole team played very well. The line did its job (for once), Reggie Bush ran well and Matt Moore didn't make any mistakes with the football because his job was made so easy.

The defense was even more impressive and after some rough outings earlier in the season, we finally saw how good Dansby and Burnett can be together. The key to the defense's struggles this year and in the past has been lack of pressure, and the heat put on Cassel in this one is exactly why the secondary was able to breathe and the Dolphins were able to hold the Chiefs' offense in check.

That all being said, I am still not in favor of winning games this season and in that sense I am disappointed with this outcome. We're not going to go 9-7 and winning four or five games is going to do nothing to help us in the future. Unfortunately for like-minded folks, the Dolphins actually have a good chance of making it two in a row at home against the quarterback-less Redskins in Week 10.


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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dolphins at Chiefs - Live Chat

2011 Week Nine Game Predictions

This has certainly been a different season for me than in years past. Because of work during the MLB Postseason plus a wedding and week-long honeymoon last month, I have seen only two of the Dolphins' seven games this season live. Fortunately, I should be free for every game the rest of the way, leading to more consistent coverage and hopefully better game picks as well!

I'm still not doing too badly this season, as my percentage correct through eight weeks (66.4) is higher than the one I finished with in 2010 (65.4). On to this week's games!

Last week's record: 8-5
2011 season record: 77-39 (66.4%)


Jets over Bills — It's an upset with the Jets on the road and the Bills playing so well, but New York has the talent to win this game and I think they will in a game that could define their season.

Cowboys over Seahawks — Dallas is coming off an embarrassing prime time rout at the hands of the Eagles, but they are a far superior team than the Seahawks and I like their chances here.

Falcons over Colts — There's no question the Falcons have been underachievers this year and the passing game hasn't quite gotten into a rhythm, but I haven't seen a worse team this year than the Peyton Manning-less Colts. I don't see how Indy wins this game barring a miracle.

Chiefs over Dolphins — I don't think Kansas City is as good as their record, nor do I think Miami is as bad as theirs. Still, the Chiefs are at home and playing pretty well off a nice win over the Chargers last week, so they're the pick.

Saints over Buccaneers — The Saints strangely followed up a 62-point performance with an upset loss to the Sam Bradford-less Rams, and Tampa Bay always gives them a challenge. I still like New Orleans to even up the season series at home.

49ers over Redskins — It's hard to believe San Francisco is this good and part of my wants to pick the Redskins to break their three-game skid, but I can't go with a team having major quarterback issues against a defense playing as well as the Niners' is.

Texans over Browns — Cleveland is down to Chris Ogbonnaya at running back with Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty out, and they'll have a hard time beating Houston even with Andre Johnson still on the shelf. I like the Texans.

Titans over Bengals — Cincinnati is performing better than expected with rookie Andy Dalton at quarterback, but I like the solid Titans at home and expect Chris Johnson to finally break out a little bit.

Raiders at Broncos — I believe Oakland has upgraded at quarterback despite Carson Palmer's rough first outing, and I don't expect much out of Denver as long as Tim Tebow is under center.

Patriots over Giants — New England is coming off a close lot to fellow AFC East elite Pittsburgh, but I think they'll rebound with a big offensive day against the Giants.

Rams over Cardinals — Part of this pick is banking on Sam Bradford playing, especially considering Arizona will be without their own starting quarterback. But even if Bradford is out, I think St. Louis has the upper hand with the experienced A. J. Feeley against second-year man John Skelton.

Packers over Chargers — San Diego is once again underachieving despite good talent, and Green Bay is simply too good to pick against right now.

Steelers over Ravens — One of the NFL's best rivalries is always a toss-up, but Pittsburgh has been consistently good this year while Baltimore has been extremely up and down. I'll play it safe(r) and take the Steelers at home.

Eagles over Bears — Philadelphia's offense looks to be back on track and is pretty unstoppable right now, so I like them over the Bears.


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Dolphins promote WR Julius Pruitt from practice squad

Down to just four wide receivers on the active roster after losing Marlon Moore to injured reserve earlier this week, the Miami Dolphins promoted Julius Pruitt from the practice squad Saturday.

Originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) in 2009, Pruitt has spent the majority of the past two seasons on the team's practice squad. He was signed to the active roster late in 2010 but was inactive for the season finale.

Pruitt (6-2, 206) will likely be making his NFL regular season debut Sunday in Kansas City, taking Moore's spot on the Dolphins' special teams units against the Chiefs. He could also see time at rookie Clyde Gates' spot on offense if the Dolphins want him to get a taste of action.

It remains unlikely, however, that Pruitt will play much on offense barring multiple injuries, although Brian Hartline reportedly suffered an ankle injury this week during practice and Brandon Marshall got into an altercation with cornerback Vontae Davis, contributing to Davis' deactivation against the Chiefs.

Regarded as a raw prospect with impressive size and speed, Pruitt has had two-plus seasons to refine his technique and work in the Dolphins' offense. However, he remains a long shot to contribute on offense at the NFL level and will be on a week-to-week basis on the active roster.

Nevertheless, it's a nice story for a guy that's spent two years working in practices but watching the games on TV, and he'll get a nice little bonus as his weekly practice squad salary of $5,700 will be replaced by a game check upward of $20,000.

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


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Thursday, November 3, 2011

A look at Tuesday's tryout players

NFL teams often work out various free agents during the early part of the week, and the Miami Dolphins were no exception this week as they reportedly brought in 11 players, including cornerback Jonathan Wade, who was signed the same day.

I already did my writeup on the Wade signing, but here is a look at the other 10 players worked out by the Dolphins this week.


QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson

Bethel-Thompson (6-4, 230) originally attended UCLA before transferring and playing three seasons at Sacramento State. In his collegiate career, he appeared in 16 games and threw for 1,615 yards and eight touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He went undrafted in 2010 and played for the San Jose SaberCats of the arena league in 2011, throwing for 220 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. He spent training camp with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, throwing one pass in the preseason before being waived during final cuts.

He's got the size and reportedly the arm, but Bethel-Thompson is a borderline NFL prospect at best. He was a backup and/or injured for much of his college career, was no signed during his rookie season and was a backup in the AFL. At best, he's a practice-squad candidate or a camp body, but Pat Devlin needn't worry yet.


RB Kareem Huggins

Huggins (5-9, 198) rushed for 2,178 yards and 21 touchdowns in four seasons at Hofstra before going undrafted and signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent in 2009. He appeared in three games as a rookie on special teams, recording a tackle and fumble recovery. Huggins rushed for 11 yards on four carries in three games in 2010 before a torn ACL ended his season. The Buccaneers declined to tender him a contract in the 2011 offseason.

Once regarded as a talented sleeper back in Tampa Bay, Huggins reportedly "blew out everything" when he injured his knee last season and there was concern after that he would no long be an NFL-caliber running back. The Dolphins obviously felt he was worth a look-see, but the reality is he was always a long way from being an NFL back and he may never be at this point.


TE Ben Patrick

 An All-American and John Mackey Award semifinalist at Delaware, Patrick (6-3, 254) was a seventh-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2007. He served as a reserve and part-time starter over four seasons, catching 45 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns. Patrick also caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XLIII against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He served a four-game suspension in 2009 for violating the league's policy on banned substances. Patrick signed with the Giants as a free agent in 2011 but retired during training camp. He unretired in September and was released.

Patrick was a solid prospect coming out of Delaware but never developed into more than a reserve with the Cardinals. His suspension from two years ago isn't a concern, but his motivation is after his retirement earlier this year. At best, he's a backup tight end and he'll have an even harder time getting a No. 2 job now. He'll likely try to latch on with a team in camp in 2012.


TE Richard Quinn

Quinn (6-4, 258) played college football at North Carolina before being selected in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He was arrested for harassment in a domestic dispute just before his rookie season began. Quinn appeared in 15 games but did not catch a pass as a rookie, and caught just one pass for nine yards in 14 games (four starts) in 2010. The Broncos placed Quinn on injured reserve during the 2011 preseason and was released shortly thereafter.

Another one of Josh McDaniels' botched draft picks in Denver, Quinn was unimpressive in two pro seasons after the Broncos traded up to take him in the second round. He's purely a blocking prospect and may have to wait until 2012 for an opportunity since he is not eligible for the practice squad.


OT Joel Bell

 A 6-foot-7, 310-pounder out of Furman, Bell was undrafted in 2009 and signed with the Buffalo Bills, but failed to make it to training camp. He played two seasons for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL and just recently concluded the 2011 season with the Las Vegas Locomotives, where he helped the team reach the league's championship game as the starting left tackle.

Bell has tackle size but is probably a pedestrian talent, having never attended an NFL training camp in three pro seasons. He's practice squad material at this point and is a significant developmental project.


OLB Rashad Jeanty

Jeanty (6-2, 247) was a freshman All-American defensive end at UCF before going undrafted in 2002. He spent four seasons with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos and won two Grey Cups before joining the Cincinnati Bengals in 2006. He started 32 of 53 games played in four seasons with the team, racking up a career-high 96 tackles and two forced fumbles as a starter in 2008. Injuries forced him to miss the 2010 season and he signed with the Eagles as a free agent in 2011, but was released during final cuts.

Jeanty is a name that has been on the Dolphins' radar before, as they worked him out each of the past two offseasons and reportedly offered him a contract before he opted to sign with Philadelphia. Jeanty is primarily a special-teamer at this point but could also serve as a backup outside linebacker.


ILB Nate Triplett

A standout special-teams player at Minnesota, Triplett (6-3, 247) was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. However, he failed to play a game for the team after being waived during final cuts. Triplett joined the Chargers' practice squad in October and was eventually added to the Colts' active roster in the final month of the season, where he appeared in five games and recorded four tackles. Triplett appeared in three games for the Colts this season before being waived on Oct. 5.

He has the size of a 3-4 inside linebacker ,but Triplett clearly doesn't offer much on the defensive side of the ball but is your protypical quality special-teams player. He remains practice squad eligible and will probably continue to get looks from NFL teams, though his upside is questionable at best.


CB Antareis Bryan

Bryan (6-2, 190) played college football at Baylor, where he totaled 71 tackles, a forced fumble, and two interceptions in four seasons. After going undrafted in 2011, he signed with the Chicago Bears. Bryan was waived during final cuts after totaling two tackles in the preseason.

Bryan had an underwhelming collegiate career, was cut by the Bears before the regular season and has not yet sniffed an NFL practice squad. Making one is likely his immediate goal, but he's obviously not regarded as a special talent at this point.


CB Ryan Jones

A star cornerback at Division II Northwest Missouri State, Jones (5-11, 195) appeared in 56 games during his collegiate career and recorded 199 tackles (7.5 for a loss), a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, 14 interceptions, four blocks, and two touchdowns. He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft and signed with the Chicago Bears, totaling seven tackles in three preseason games before being waived.

Like Bryan (above), Jones is a former undrafted corner that spent camp with the Bears and hasn't had any bites as a free agent since the regular season began. His collegiate resume is more impressive than Bryan's, but Jones did play at Division II. Jones is angling for a practice squad spot and has plenty of competition in the pool of free agents.

S Brandon Underwood

After spending two years at Ohio State, Underwood transferred to Cincinnati and went on to earn firs-team All-Big East honors as a senior. He was selected by the Packers in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. In two seasons with the team, Underwood appeared in 23 games (zero starts) totaled 21 tackles while earning a Super Bowl ring in Super Bowl XLV.

Numerous run-ins with the law have clouded Underwood's NFL future, but of course that doesn't mean NFL teams should shun him entirely. While he hasn't shown himself to be a starting-caliber player yet, he did play behind some talented players in Green Bay. He'll be kept in mind if the Dolphins continue to experience injuries at safety.


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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dolphins waive Gerald Alexander, place Marlon Moore on IR

The Miami Dolphins opened two roster spots Tuesday, waiving safety Gerald Alexander for the second time this year while placing second-year wide receiver Marlon Moore on season-ending injured reserve with a foot injury.

Signed late in the preseason and waived during final cuts, Alexander was re-signed by the Dolphins on Oct. 19 after injuries to safeties Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones. Alexander appeared in the Dolphins' most recent two games but failed to record a tackle.

Fifth on the Dolphins' depth chart at receiver, Moore did not catch a pass this season after totaling six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown as a rookie in 2010. He did, however, total three special teams tackles in six games this season.

The Dolphins also filled one of the roster spots today, signing fifth-year cornerback Jonathan Wade. A third-round pick out of Tennessee in 2007, Wade has played for the Rams, Lions and Bengals.

With two players moved off the roster and only one added, the Dolphins still have an open spot on their 53-man roster.


Jonathan Wade

A Shreveport, La. native, Wade originally attended the University of Tennessee as a track star and wide receiver, but was later redshirted and moved to cornerback. He was named a second-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press and the conference's coaches as a senior.

Boasting sub-4.4 speed at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, Wade was selected by the Rams with the 84th overall pick in 2007. He appeared in 16 games as a rookie with one start, recording 24 tackles and an interception.

Wade played in 31 of 32 possible games for the Rams over the following two seasons but started just five contests in that span, totaling 43 tackles, six pass deflections, and an interception. Largely a disappointment in St. Louis, Wade was not tendered as a restricted free agent in 2010.

The Detroit Lions signed Wade in March of 2010. He started four of eight games played, racking up 30 tackles and three pass deflections, but was waived on Nov. 19. Wade was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals a few days later and went on to record 14 tackles and two pass break-ups in four games (three starts) with the team in 2010.

Wade battled a shoulder injury during the 2011 preseason and was waived by the Bengals during final cuts. A free agent since his release, Wade will work at cornerback for the Dolphins while his jersey number remains unknown.


Analysis

Irrational Marlon Moore fans can stop hyperventilating, as this does nothing to affect the Dolphins' stellar offensive rhythm. Moore had been buried in the depth chart at receiver and will only be missed on special teams, where he had performed well in 2011.

As for his replacement, my money is on former 2009 second-rounder Brian Robiskie, who was waived by the Browns on Tuesday. Robiskie has been underwhelming thus far, but still has potential and is regarded as a fundamentally-sound wide receiver as the son of Falcons' receivers (and former Dolphins) coach Terry Robiskie. He is also a former college teammate of Brian Hartline at Ohio State and has experience with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll from their time in Cleveland.

Robiskie has done well on special teams with six career tackles and that's essentially the role he'd be filling as Moore's replacement. The 0-7 Dolphins have high waiver priority (every player must pass through waivers following the trade deadline) and should be able to land him if they so choose.

In the 27-year-old Wade, the Dolphins simply add a body to the bottom of their cornerback depth chart and a potential special-teamer. He has the measurables but has failed to become a quality defensive player in his four-year career, struggling to earn a significant role with three teams and battling injuries at times.

While Vontae Davis remains out with a hamstring injury and the rest of the secondary has had their struggles this season, Wade is very unlikely to be a savior for the Dolphins' pass defense and will be in a weekly battle just to remain on the roster.

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


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