The Miami Dolphins made two surprising moves to their roster after their preseason— releasing of center Matt Skura and inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney.
Skura has been the lead backup center all training camp, and there hasn’t been any serious competition of any player taking that spot away from him.
He hasn’t been able to take the starting reigns from the resurgent 3rd-year lineman Michael Deiter, but Skura hasn’t had any glaring issues at the position (at least, not to my eyes). Skura seemed to be back to his old self and moving forward from the poor snaps he had in 2020 as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
The Dolphins traded with the Baltimore Ravens for versatile offensive lineman Greg Mancz before their preseason finale against the Bengals, and Skura was quickly dismissed just days after.
What is even more bizarre is that in making that move, the Dolphins are indirectly saying that Skura is to be cut for a lineman in Mancz who doesn’t have as many starts, nor as much playing time, nor experienced the amount of success compared to Skura over his career.
Mancz found a starting role on the Texans after being undrafted in 2015 but then has risen and fallen as far as starter and practice squad member throughout his years there. The Ravens took a chance on Mancz last year, but again… for the practice squad.
So there is a connection. But is that connection worth cutting the most established center on the Dolphins?
And so much stands on the shoulders of Tua for 2021. Too many Waston-trade rumors and a lack of respect from around the league that stems from a 2020 mistimed Week 7 quarterback switch.
Backup center Cameron Tom, who is competing to make the team, has a similar story to Mancz. Tom signed onto the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2017. But since then, it has generally bounced between the practice squad and the active roster. Tom joined the Dolphins this past offseason.
Benardrick McKinney has been the starter at the inside linebacker position for the most part. But simply put he cant cover. And more profound writers than I have noticed that in the practices at the Dolphins Training Facility.
Head coach Brian Flores likes guys who can both cover and defend against the run. And as much as McKinney flashed as a run-stuffer in practice, there were instances of him not being able to keep up against Dolphins playmakers.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) August 31, 2021
After cutting McKinney’s salary not long after his arrival and making him a friendlier cap hit, I would think Miami would be able to hang onto him as a run-stuffer in certain packages. That seemed to be the case until this news.
But fans also have to consider that linebacker Elandon Roberts returned to practice not too long ago from his 2020 season-ending injury. He’s healthy, and Roberts has a little more versatility as an inside LB regarding coverage. Roberts made an impact last year in short-yardage situations before he went down with his injury. Plus, Roberts has a history with Flores going back to their New England days, and his leadership in that locker room is widely respected.
Still surprising, though. But maybe the Dolphins intend to release a linebacker with a 1-dimensional skillset to keep a more versatile body in their linebacking corps, like a Duke Riley who is known for his coverage, or a Sam Eguavoen who has been getting some 1st-ream reps ever since his 4-sack preseason performance against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Dolphins also have 1st-round rookie Jaelan Phillips training to be a hybrid defensive end/linebacker. Phillips missed two weeks of camp with a hamstring injury but has been easing his way back into form since returning. He played in multiple dimensions this past weekend against the Bengals.
Remember— last season, around this same time frame; there was a case similar to McKinney’s surprising release. This particular instance involved linebacker Raekwon McMillan.
McMillan was drafted in 2017 (before Flores took over the team), was known for his intelligence, and being a 2-down linebacker. He could play against run… but he couldn’t cover.
And because of that glaring issue…
He was traded away to the Raiders. Gone.