CARLSBAD, Calif. -- The Miami Dolphins needed to add an offensive lineman Saturday and that meant they had to get rid of a hopeful project to improve the secondary.
The Dolphins cut cornerback Chris Culliver in order to promote center Jake Brendel onto the active roster from their practice squad.
Brendel is on the roster now because center Mike Pouncey is doubtful to play on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams after suffering a setback with his surgically repaired hips in practice earlier in the week. With Pouncey likely not playing, the Dolphins needed another offensive lineman.
That meant the Dolphins cut the last man on their roster, which was Culliver -- surprisingly.
Culliver was signed in August with the hope that once he recovered from the reconstructive knee surgery he underwent last November, he could immediately upgrade a Dolphins secondary that is very much in need of good cornerbacks.
And because Culliver has been a good cornerback in his previous five NFL seasons with San Francisco and Washington, it was logical he would be the upgrade the team wanted and needed once healthy.
It didn’t work out.
The plan seemed to be working when Culliver rehabilitated his reconstructed knee during training camp, the preseason and the first seven weeks of the season while on the physically unable to perform list. The rehab got Culliver to the point he could begin practicing with the rest of the team.
But once Culliver got on the field three weeks ago it soon became obvious he was not ready to play. Indeed, Culliver seemed unable to compete at a high level in some practices.
Coaches decided Culliver was not be able to carry out his assignments for no other reason than he couldn’t run and cut with enough explosion to stay with receivers. The Dolphins were at first hopeful Culliver would improve as he got more work and he was promoted from the physically unable to perform list to the roster Nov. 11.
But after two more weeks of practice, there was apparently not enough improvement to suggest Culliver would be able to help at all this season. Interestingly, Culliver said multiple times he was ready to play. Last week he told reporters he’d been told he was going to play against San Diego last Sunday.
He was inactive and the Dolphins privately say there was never any plan to play him.
Brendel, by the way, is a 6-4, 305-pound rookie who played at UCLA. He’s expected to be the backup to Anthony Steen who is expected to start at center against the Rams.
Steen can also shift to guard should the Dolphins suffer an injury at that position and that also would force the Dolphins to play Brendel at center.