Miami Dolphins cornerback Chris Culliver, sidelined the first seven games of the season while recovering from a serious knee injury, said Tuesday he’s completely healthy and will be disappointed if he’s not activated for Sunday’s home game against the Jets.
“I feel good; I can play Sunday,” said Culliver, who has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of the season. “If I’m not activated, I’ll be mad. It would be a disappointment. I’m ready to rock.”
Though finances never came up during conversations with reporters on Tuesday, there is a monetary benefit to Culliver being active Sunday.
According to someone who has examined the contract he signed with Miami in August, Culliver gets $156,250 for each game he's on the 53-man roster, in addition to his $1 million base salary and $2.5 million roster bonus.
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Culliver said he is trusting the knee, which was injured during a Thanksgiving practice for the Redskins last year.
“I have more power, more strength,” he said. “Maybe last week I was two steps behind. This week is better.”
Culliver said he would love to start but would also be content coming off the bench. “Do what coach needs me to do,” he said.
The Dolphins must make a decision on Culliver by Nov. 9, before the Nov. 13 San Diego game.
Their options: place him on the 53-man roster, release him (unlikely) or keep him on PUP for the remainder of the season.
Culliver’s career has been uneven. In 14 starts for the 49ers in 2014, he ranked among Pro Football Focus’ top 15 cornerbacks, allowing just 37 receptions on 73 targets (50.7%), and holding passers to a 66.5 QB rating – far better than any Dolphins cornerback in 2015.
He parlayed that into a four-year, $32 million contract with the Redskins, but played only six games in 2015 (largely because of hamstring injuries and that torn ACL and MCL last November) and graded negatively in each of the six, allowing 375 yards, four touchdowns and an obscene passer rating of 134.8.
Per PFF, Culliver’s 32.3 coverage grade in 2015 was worse than all NFL corners except the penalty-plagued Brandon Browner.
But the Dolphins were impressed by his work with the 49ers, when he was healthy, and believe he can give them a boost down the stretch.
Byron Maxwell and Tony Lippett have been starting at cornerback. Rookie Xavien Howard, who had been starting, is recovering from knee surgery and the Dolphins hope to have him back sometime in November.
The Dolphins also recently added veteran cornerbacks Bene Benwikere and Chimdi Chewka, but Benwikere hasn’t been active for his first two games as a Dolphin.
The Dolphins have an open roster spot after releasing defensive lineman Julius Warmsley last week.
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