With starter Joe Berger nursing a knee injury, backup Cory Procter now on injured reserve with a torn ACL, and starting left guard Richie Incognito struggling last week against the Bears, the Miami Dolphins have signed veteran center Eric Ghiaciuc to an undisclosed contract.
A five-year NFL veteran, Ghiaciuc (pronounced GUY-check) likely received a one-year deal for the veteran minimum. He was at practice Monday wearing No. 73. Earlier reports of the Dolphins signing offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (and wearing No. 73) now appear to be inaccurate.
Ghiaciuc has center and guard experience, but is likely to work at center with Berger, currently unavailable. However, Berger is expected to be ready for the Dolphins' Week 12 match-up with the Oakland Raiders.
A Michigan native, Ghiaciuc played college football at Central Michigan and started 37 games for the Chippewas over his final three seasons.
Ghiaciuc was drafted by the Bengals in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, and started one game during his rookie season as the backup to veteran center Rich Braham.
After Braham suffered an injury early in the 2006 season, Ghiaciuc replaced him as the Bengals' starting center and opened 13 games that season. He followed with 12 starts in 2007 and 16 starts in 2008.
Ghiaciuc became an unrestricted free agent in the 2009 season and was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs. However, he was waived by the Chiefs during final cuts.
The San Diego Chargers signed Ghiaciuc on December 22, 2009 after an injury to Scott Mruczkowski. But Ghiaciuc was inactive for the Chargers' final two regular season games and their lone playoff game that season.
Once again a free agent in 2010, Ghiaciuc spent two months of the offseason with the Cleveland Browns before his release in June. After a brief stint with the UFL's Florida Tuskers, Ghiaciuc spent the 2010 preseason with the New England Patriots before being released during final cuts.
Ghiaciuc was signed for one reason and one reason only—he has plenty of NFL experience snapping the football.
The Dolphins need someone to fill in for Berger in practice until he returns, while emergency center Richie Incognito needs to continue practicing at his starting spot of left guard.
There isn't much to get excited over with the Ghiaciuc signing, because he has become fairly well-known for being a sub-par center and has taken on the role of a journeyman over the past few seasons.
In fact, the recognition for Ghiaciuc's lack of ability has stretched as far as Deadspin.com, which recently named him the 83rd worst player in NFL history.
Of course there is no statistical backing for the article, but it's certainly not a good thing when a random offensive lineman is singled out in such a way (For some perspective, former Dolphins linebacker Bobby Carpenter is 98th on the list).
Consider Ghiaciuc the Patrick Ramsey of centers—a experienced NFL veteran that provides needed depth in the short-term, but someone without much ability or any real upside that has no chance of returning in 2011.
As always, check out the update out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.
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Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and is currently a programming coordinator for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.