Top News: Dolphins Trade For DT Akeem Spence

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The Dolphins bolstered their defensive line Thursday when they acquired five-year veteran Akeem Spence in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

In exchange for Spence, the Dolphins gave up an undisclosed 2019 draft pick.

Spence has played 72 games in five NFL seasons with 41 starts, including a career-high 14 as a rookie in 2013.

He was a fourth-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of Illinois in 2013 and spent his first four seasons with the Bucs before joining the Lions in March 2017 when he signed a three-year contract as an unrestricted free agent.

With the Dolphins, Spence will be reunited with defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, a new member of the Miami coaching staff.

Akeem joins a defensive tackle group that includes Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor and Gabe Wright.

Adding rookies: The Dolphins have been busy adding rookie free agents since the end of the draft Saturday, and 12 signings have been revealed via the Twitter accounts of the player or their school, or via a league source. Those 12 are North Carolina linebacker Cayson Collins, Utah State cornerback Jalen Davis, TCU long-snapper Lucas Gravelle, FAU running back Buddy Howell, FAU kicker Greg Joseph, Notre Dame (Ohio) defensive end Claudy Mathieu, Michigan linebacker Mike McCray II, University of Miami defensive tackle Anthony Moten, UCF defensive tackle Jamiyus Pittman, Fairmont State defensive end Quincy Redmon, and Purdue tackle David Steinmetz.

Worth watching: Two of those 12 rookie free agents were among the 20 UDFAs around the league mentioned by NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter as having the best chances of earning a roster spot. The two were Davis and Steinmetz.

“Davis should have received a lot more attention through the draft process, but his lack of size was a hurdle for teams,” Reuter wrote. “If you flip on the tape, he shows the stuff of a pro cornerback. He’ll have an opportunity to compete to become one of Miami’s top four corners, and he has a good chance to stick.” As for Steinmetz, Reuter had this to say: “At 6-8 and 310 pounds, Steinmetz is just plain difficult to get around. He’ll get a good chance to make the roster in Miami if he can emulate similarly built Sam Young’s game during training camp.”

PAL support: Safety Walt Aikens was announced Thursday as an official spokesperson for the National Association of Police Athletic/Activities League (National PAL). Aiken first joined a PAL chapter as a 6-year-old in Charlotte, North Carolina. “PAL was a big part of my life growing up, and it’s a great way to get kids involved, keep kids out of trouble and give them something to do, and I’m thankful for it,” Aikens said. “There’s no better way to show your thanks and appreciation than to give back.” Aikens will be at Mishcon Park in North Miami Beach on Friday when the Dolphins host a football clinic for local PAL chapters.

Rizzi part of discussion: Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi traveled to New York this week to be part of a forum aimed at finding ways to preserve the kickoff but also make it safer. A group of owners, head coaches, position coaches, medical personnel, an active player and a union official have met to try to form a consensus for a proposed rule change to make the play safer. A final draft was scheduled to be completed by the end of the week and presented to clubs Monday.

“Sometimes there’s a perception that special teams coaches are only concerned about keeping the kickoff to keep our job,” Rizzi told NFL.com. “This wasn’t about that. It was about making the game safer, making the play safer and not taking the foot out of football. It’s easy for the coaches to be stubborn and say, ‘Oh, keep it the way it is.’ In my opinion those days are over. We have to keep moving forward, not just this year but every year. We have to keep asking, ‘What can we tweak this year? What can we improve?’ The whole collaboration by the whole room was pretty cool.”


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