Miami Dolphins Sign DB K. J. Gerard, LB David Nixon
Rookie linebacker Mark Masterson, who had just been signed on Aug. 1 when Tim Dobbins was released, was placed on the reserve/retired list. Masterson was undrafted out of Maine.
The Dolphins now have 83 players on their active 90-man roster. The team begins its four-game preseason schedule Friday at the Atlanta Falcons.
K. J. Gerard
A California native, Gerard played college football at Northern Arizona and became one of the most accomplished defensive backs in the history of the program. He was a a two-time All-American and a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award (given annually to the top defensive player at the FCS level).
Gerard was also an honorable mention All-Big Sky selection once and was a two-time all-conference selection twice, as well as the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year in 2005. During his 45-game career, he racked up 232 tackles (24.5 for a loss), four sacks, four forced fumbles, 33 pass deflections and a school-record 19 interceptions (fifth-best in Big Sky history).
The 6'1", 187-pound Gerard was waived by the Ravens prior to the 2010 regular season and spent the rest of the year out of football. He signed a future contract with the Chicago Bears in January 2011 but was waived on Aug. 2.
Gerard, who has experience at both cornerback and safety at the NFL level, will likely work at corner for the Dolphins. He will wear No. 40.
Nixon excelled at A&M Consolidated High School in College Station, Texas before being recruited to play college football at BYU. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Nixon played his freshman season in 2003 before serving a two-year Mormon mission in Ecuador.
As a sophomore in 2006, Nixon recorded 62 tackles and three sacks for the Cougars. He added 66 tackles and four sacks as a junior, concluding his collegiate career with 90 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and three interceptions on his way to second-team All-Mountain West honors. He was an academic all-conference selection each of his final three seasons.
Nixon was claimed off waivers by the Houston Texans and appeared in three games for the team, including a nine-tackle effort against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 17 in place of DeMeco Ryans. However, he was waived just two days later and signed to the St. Louis Rams' practice squad.
The Rams promoted Nixon to the active roster on Dec. 7, 2010, and he appeared in one game. He attended training camp with the team in 2011 before being waived on Aug. 6.
Nixon projected as an inside linebacker in the Dolphins' 3-4 scheme and will wear No. 45, which is the number worn by the man he's replacing on the roster in Mark Masterson.
It's certainly no surprise to see Masterson call it quits because he was coming off a fairly unimpressive collegiate career at an FCS school and really had no place in an NFL camp. I imagine he knew he didn't have much of a shot to make the team and decided to just move on with his career.
Regardless of which one makes the team (assuming the team does keep a fourth inside linebacker), the player will be limited to a special teams role and will have little job security during the regular season.
Gerard here is the interesting signing not because of what he offers but rather what his signing means for some other players on the roster.
Gerard had a strong collegiate career and absolutely has the talent to compete for a special teams role with Nate Ness and the team's undrafted rookie corners, but what this signing says to me is that veteran cornerback Will Allen, who has missed four straight days of practice as of Tuesday, may be having health issues.
The Dolphins obviously like to carry eight cornerbacks in camp, and the signing of Gerard may mean that the team doesn't expect Allen to be on the field any time soon.
Despite having restructured his contract to remain with the team this offseason, Allen is far from a lock to make the team and is likely competing for one roster spot with 2010 nickel man Benny Sapp. The longer Allen is on the sidelines, the more likely it is he is eventually cut come September.
As always, check 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 currently works for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.
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