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.
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.
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's 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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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.