Miami Dolphins: Austin Spitler

There were many criticisms of former Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland from fans in South Florida. Many point to his spotty record signing free agents, questionable trades and personality fallouts behind the scenes with two head coaches (Tony Sparano, Joe Philbin). All points are valid.

But one thing Ireland probably did not get enough credit for during his tenure in Miami was his ability to find talent in the later rounds of the NFL draft. Players such as tight end Charles Clay (sixth round), safety Reshad Jones (fifth round) and receiver Brian Hartline (fourth round) are terrific examples of hidden gems Ireland found in the later rounds and became part of the Dolphins' foundation.

With that in mind, here is a little known fact: Miami's seventh-round picks have made the 53-man roster four straight years. Linebacker Austin Spitler (2010), safety Jimmy Wilson (2011), receiver Rishard Matthews (2012) and safety Don Jones (2013) all made the team as rookies. Wilson, Matthews and Jones are still part of the team and have roles as backups or on special teams.

Can rookie defensive end Terrence Fede keep the streak alive? The rookie from Marist is the first seventh-round pick for new Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey.

Fede is raw, but he has good size and athleticism. I have been particularly impressed with how well Fede moves for a player his size. However, it is too premature to accurately gauge his chances to make Miami’s 53-man roster until the pads come on in training camp.

Going against Fede is the fact that he’s trying to make the Dolphins in arguably the deepest area of their roster. Miami already has stalwarts at defensive end, such as Pro Bowler Cameron Wake, 2013 sack leader Olivier Vernon, former No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan and valuable backup Derrick Shelby. The Dolphins are already four deep at defensive end. At the very least, Fede would be fifth on the depth chart.

Time will tell if Fede can extend Miami’s seventh-round streak to five years. The practice squad also is an option for Fede if he cannot make the 53-man roster later this summer.

Dolphins final injury report

December, 6, 2013
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (6-6) released their final injury report for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7), which will have plenty of playoff implications.

Here is the game status for Miami's injured players:

Out: CB Jamar Taylor (hamstring)

Questionable: CB Dimitri Patterson (groin), RB Daniel Thomas (ankle)

Probable: S Chris Clemons (knee, hamstring), QB Ryan Tannehill (thumb), G John Jerry (concussion), TE Michael Egnew (neck), LB Austin Spitler (knee)

Analysis: There were a couple surprises on Miami’s final injury report. Thomas didn’t practice much of the week but was limited on Friday. That was enough to provide a chance that he plays on Sunday, although I still think he will sit this game. Jerry also returned to practice Friday, which is a good sign. He’s expected to play as long as he passes concussion tests this weekend. Patterson is trying to make it back in time for Sunday but will be a game-time decision. For the Steelers, starting running back Le'Veon Bell is probable with a concussion.

Miami morning take: Stopping sacks

October, 3, 2013
Here are the latest Miami Dolphins stories Thursday from around the Web:
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel writes about Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, who is unhappy about the team’s pass protection.
Morning take: According to Incognito, if the Dolphins allow 72 sacks this season the entire offensive line should be fired. Miami has allowed 18 so far and is on that torrid pace.
  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald says questions still remain with Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Morning take: Tannehill is 10-10 after 20 starts. There are things in his game he still needs to work on, such as ball security, but I like most of what I see in fewer than two seasons.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post explores the tailback debate between Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller.
Morning take: Miami’s coaching staff has raved about Thomas since training camp. But he’s averaging 2.8 yards per carry this year, and I think it’s time to make Miller more of a feature tailback.
Morning take: Miami is the only team Spitler’s played for in four seasons. The Dolphins need a boost on special teams with linebacker Jason Trusnik and Don Jones both nursing injuries.

Dolphins re-sign LB Austin Spitler

October, 2, 2013
The Miami Dolphins resigned linebacker Austin Spitler, the team announced on Wednesday.

Spitler was one of the final cuts waived on August 31st. He spent the previous three years with the Dolphins as primarily a player on special teams.

To make room for Spitler, the Dolphins released fullback Tyler Clutts and safety Kelcie McCray on Tuesday. One open roster spot remains in Miami.
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins made their roster cuts to 53 players on Saturday evening. In all, I correctly predicted 50 out of 53 players on Friday, which is a stellar 94.3 percent.

Here is a look at the three calls that I missed:

No. 1: QB Pat Devlin

Walker's bad pick: WR Marvin McNutt

Analysis: Whether to keep or release Devlin was probably the toughest decision Miami’s front office and coaching staff had to make. I predicted Devlin’s release because Miami had two good quarterbacks (Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore), and keeping him would impact depth at another position. The Dolphins went the other way and it impacted depth at wide receiver. Miami only has four receivers after cutting McNutt, who had a solid preseason. Maybe you can count five if you consider tailback and return specialist Marcus Thigpen as a legit slot option. The Dolphins run a lot of three-receiver sets and probably will add another player at that position in the coming days.

No. 2: DB Don Jones

Walker's bad pick: DT Kheeston Randall

Analysis: This one is a head-scratcher. Nothing against Jones, but Miami’s seventh-round pick was my biggest surprise to make the 53-man roster. In my opinion, Jones didn’t show enough in training camp or the preseason to get the nod, especially at the expense of a good backup defensive lineman like Randall. Jones is a draft pick, and that always carries weight with general manager Jeff Ireland. It’s early for Jones. Maybe he eventually turns into a player. But Randall is a good NFL player now and should find work soon.

No. 3: LB Josh Kaddu

Walker's bad pick: LB Austin Spitler

Analysis: This one could have gone either way, especially since Kaddu and Spitler are both backup linebackers. Miami went for the younger player instead. I thought Spitler’s experience and added value on special teams would be enough to get one of the final spots. But an argument could be made for either player. No complaints here with the Dolphins choosing Kaddu. However, all three players who made it are on the hot seat considering the Dolphins are expected to make waiver claims.