The Miami Dolphins hit the practice field on Wednesday with speculation still flying that starting quarterback Chad Henne is out for the remainder of the 2011 season. The Dolphins are rumored to be shopping for a backup quarterback to take Henne's roster spot, with David Garrard and Jake Delhomme reportedly having been approached on Monday. However, at practice on Wednesday, no new quarterbacks were with the team.
But, that doesn't mean the team didn't make any personnel moves. The Dolphins terminated the contract of veteran cornerback Nate Jones today, replacing him with second year offensive lineman Will Barker. The 6'7", 325lbs. Barker was signed off of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad, after appearing in three games last year for the Bucs.
Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano described Barker as, "Big, athletic guy. Good range. Strong, smart. He's got good qualities for a lineman. He's been a guy we've had our eye on a little while."
Barker has played both tackle positions and right guard. his presence in Miami, with the practice squad signing restriction of him having to be on the active roster, could signal pressure on Either current right tackle Marc Colombo or right guard Vernon Carey - if not a straight up change to the personnel, using the bye week as a chance for Barker to gel with the rest of the line.
Barker was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Virginia in 2010, signing with the Dallas Cowboys, before being released at the end of the 2010 training camp, followed by his signing to the Buccaneers practice squad.
The Dolphins also made two practice squad moves on Wednesday, releasing running back Nic Grigsby and offensive lineman D.J. Jones and bringing back cornerback Vincent Agnew and signing nose tackl Isaako Aaitui.
Barker joined the Dolphins at practice today, but not every Miami player was on the field. Along with Henne, running back Daniel Thomas, safety Chris Clemons, defensive end Tony McDaniel, cornerback Nolan Carroll, and linebacker Koa Misi all sat out practice.
With the release of Jones, who signed with the team two weeks ago following injury to starting cornerback Vontae Davis, and the fact that Davis was on the field during practice, it appears the Dolphins secondary is back to opening day strength - with Davis reportedly calling his return to the team, "like the first day of school." However, Clemons' hamstring injury continues to nag him, although he was not limited in practice on Tuesday - and he is much needed to pressure, if not replace, starting safety Reshad Jones.
With Matt Moore taking the snaps as the Dolphins new starting quarterback, the Dolphins continued their search for a backup. Garrard was reportedly ready to sign with Miami, but the Dolphins balked at his requested $1.5 million request, preferring to sign him for the league veteran minimum. Delhomme was thought to have no interest in returning to the league as a backup on an 0-4 team. Earlier this week, the team reportedly also tried out both former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle and former Buffalo Bill Trent Edwards.
Neither player was expected to be signed by the Dolphins.
So, for now, Miami will continue to go forward with Moore taking the first team snaps, and Henne on the sidelines. The Dolphins were expected to update Henne's status on Thursday or Friday, although there is no rush with the team not playing this weekend. If Moore does start for the Dolphins against the Jets in two weeks, he will be the teams\'s 16th starting quarterback since Dan Marino retired in 1999, joining Damon Huard (6 games), Jay Fiedler (59), Ray Lucas (6), Brian Griese (5), A.J. Feeley (8), Sage Rosenfels (2), Gus Frerotte (15), Joey Harrington (11), Daunte Culpepper (4), Cleo Lemon (7), Trent Green (5), John Beck (4), Chad Pennington (20), Henne (31), and Tyler Thigpen (1).