The Miami Dolphins have completed their first round of waiver claims and roster adjustments, taking the original 53-man from last night and changing eight names on it (four adds, four drops). With the waiver claims slowing down, and the focus shifting to the practice squad, and seeing who is still available after all the madness, here are my five thoughts about the moves the Dolphins made today.
1. Anthony Armstrong, Wide receiver. Miami claiming Armstrong, after nearly trading for him last night, has excited a large portion of the fan base. Armstrong is clearly a worthwhile addition to the Dolphins' weak receiving corps, but he also was released by the Redskins. He had a solid 2010 campaign, but spent most of last year injured. While he is an upgrade, he's not the dominant wide out Miami fans are hoping the team can find somehow. Expect Armstrong to add a deep threat to the Dolphins, but also realize, there was a reason he was released, and don't get expectations too high. There's still work to do here.
2. Sammy Brown, Linebacker. Brown signed as an undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams back in April, coming out of the University of Houston. He can play, having tallied 169 tackles, 21 sacks, and 50 tackles for loss in just two years of experience at Houston. But, scouts, coaches, and even Brown, knew he took plays off at Houston, and did not work as hard as he should have. He was determined to change that impression with the Rams, but, obviously, ended up being waived. Scouts love what he can do, and, if he can get his head straight, he is expected to be a difference maker at linebacker for a team. For this season, the Dolphins just need him to be a depth player, and provide some situational blitzing.
3. Troy Nolan, Safety. How the Dolphins decide to use Nolan will be interesting. He has decent ball skills, and will go up and get the ball at the high point. He doesn't have the greatest speed, but he is good in run support - something the team lost with Yeremiah Bell's departure. He has 71 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 1.5 sacks in two years with Houston, playing in 30 games, starting six. Nolan could push either Reshad Jones or Chris Clemons for starts as the season progresses.
4. R.J. Stanford, Cornerback. Stanford spent 2011 with the Carolina Panthers, appearing in 13 games and tallying 12 tackles with one interception. Stanford, along with Nolan Carroll, has to step up and play big time, as the Dolphins are sure to see plenty of spread offenses with their known shortage at cornerback. Expect cornerback-turned-safety Jimmy Wilson to get the Jason Allen treatment, and be moved back to cornerback when needed.
5. Cuts (Tyrone Culver, Jonathan Freeny, Josh Kaddu, Steve Slaton). The release of Culver surprised me. The other three, not-so-much, but taking out a defensive back, when it is clearly a position of need was unexpected. He wasn't going to challenge Jones for the starting position, but he was a quality backup. Apparently the coaching staff likes what Nolan brings to the team more than what Culver did, making the five year veteran expendable. Freeny was on the 53-man roster simply to save a place for the waiver wire moves, as was Slaton. The Dolphins nearly traded Slaton away last night, and were not going to carry five running backs. Kaddu, while not a surprise like Culver, was a little unexpected - not because of his play, but because he was a fifth round draft pick being replaced by an undrafted free agent who was already waived by one team. Something about Brown must really excite the coaches, or something about Kaddu really disappointed them.