Analyzing the Miami Dolphins' 2012 Practice Squad
The Dolphins signed eight players to their practice squad on Sunday. Practice squad invitees rarely get major opportunities to contribute in the same year, but are at least employed in the league, which is better than many NFL hopefuls can say right now.
Being invited to the practice squad also means the coaches see some degree of potential in that player. Once in a while, there can be a hidden gem that gets his start on some team's practice squad. The Dolphins have some experience with that, once signing Wes Welker away from the Chargers to their squad.
Which was good, until they traded him to a division rival for two draft picks and watched first-hand as he turned into a star.
Here is the assessment of this year's practice squad.
LB Josh Kaddu
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The Dolphins used a fifth-round draft pick on Kaddu in April, but his unimpressive training camp and preseason resulted in a trip to the practice squad.
Kaddu certainly looks the part of NFL linebacker—at 6-foot-3, 239 lbs—and has all the athletic ability he would need. But, he is unrefined and was unable to make enough of an impact in preseason games to crack Miami's 53-man roster.
It wasn't for lack of need either; the Dolphins are extremely thin at linebacker and even ended up signing undrafted rookie Sammy Brown away from the St. Louis Rams, who had all of two tackles in the preseason.
Miami will keep Kaddu around and give him time to develop his skills. If he does, he has a chance to be an important part of this team down the road. This year, an injury to a starter would be his best chance to dress on game days.
WR Chris Hogan
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Chris Hogan is one of the better known Dolphins' wide receivers, but not for his play on the field.
Hogan was highlighted by HBO's Hard Knocks, where Reggie Bush dubbed him "7-11" due to his ability to get open in practices. Despite the notoriety, he was given few opportunities to showcase his skills in the preseason. He only managed to catch four passes for 34 yards, all coming in the first two games.
Little is known about the undrafted rookie's true potential, but the coaches feel highly enough about him to keep him around on the practice squad. Hogan likely won't make any short-term impact for the Dolphins.
CB De'Andre Presley
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Presley is the only practice squad signee who did not spend camp with the Dolphins, instead spending it with the San Diego Chargers. He did not record a stat in the preseason working mostly with the third- and fourth-team defense.
The Tampa, Florida, native was a heralded quarterback at Appalachian State, but made an abrupt position switch to cornerback midway through his senior season. The Chargers signed him after he went undrafted in April's draft.
The Dolphins need cornerbacks desperately, but it would be very surprising if Presley helped them in any way in 2012. It'd be a lot to expect out of a player who made such a recent position switch, but he certainly has some big play potential.
WR Jeff Fuller
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Ryan Tannehill's former college teammate has an opportunity to remain his teammate after getting an invite to the practice squad. Fuller currently has to refine his skills and learn to be a little more sure-handed, but he has a realistic chance to stick with Miami in the long-term.
Fuller had the advantage of working with Tannehill and Dolphins' offensive coordinator Mike Sherman in college, but his true inside track to playing on Sundays is his size. He is two inches taller than any other current Dolphins' wideout, and Miami may need a bigger target sooner than later.
Of all of the players on the practice squad, Fuller has the most realistic chance to join the Dolphins at some point this season.
OT Andrew McDonald, OG Chandler Burden, LB Jonathon Freeny, S Anderson Russell
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The rest of the Dolphins' practice squad is composed of extra depth players and practice bodies. There isn't much chance that any of the four jump up to the game-day roster unless there's an extreme emergency.
Freeny and Russell are spending their second year on Miami's practice squad. McDonald and Burden were both signed as undrafted rookie free agents this offseason.
Obviously, for these players it's better than being on the street, but they are mostly extra bodies for an exceptionally thin team. It would be a safe bet that the Dolphins will be looking to the outside for help when needed.