Dolphins sign safety Verone McKinley to active roster, elevate lineman for Browns game
The Miami Dolphins signed undrafted rookie safety Verone McKinley to the active roster from the practice squad and elevated offensive lineman Kion Smith for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, the team announced Saturday.
McKinley, the former college teammate of fellow safety Jevon Holland at Oregon, has recently become a vital piece to the Dolphins defense with strong safety Brandon Jones out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in a knee.
Two weeks ago against the Detroit Lions, McKinley earned his first NFL start and played 80 percent of defensive snaps, mostly at free safety off the ball while the versatile Holland switched to Jones’ former role of playing closer to the line of scrimmage.
The Dolphins had already used the three practice-squad elevations allotted to McKinley, calling him up against the Lions, the week before against the Pittsburgh Steelers and in the opener against the New England Patriots. McKinley also saw snaps late in the win over Pittsburgh on Oct. 23 when Jones initially was injured.
The Dolphins did not have to make a corresponding move Saturday as they began the day with 52 players on their active roster.
With McKinley now signed to the 53-man roster, should the team later want to send him back to the practice squad, it would have to release him first, making him eligible to be claimed by other clubs. Earlier this season, the Dolphins signed wide receiver River Cracraft to the roster after using his three practice-squad elevations. He has remained with the team since.
Miami opted against signing McKinley to the 53-man roster for last week’s game against the Chicago Bears because Eric Rowe was the safety primarily being used opposite Holland. Bringing McKinley up this week could be an indication that the defensive game plan against Cleveland involves more packages for him. Rowe was a healthy inactive on Oct. 30 in Detroit when McKinley started.
McKinley has two tackles on the season. His one against the Lions prevented tight end T.J. Hockenson from scoring a long touchdown.
The Dolphins use their third elevation on Smith. He was also elevated for the Week 6 loss to the Vikings and last week’s win against the Bears.
Smith provides depth on an offensive line that may remain without Austin Jackson, who is questionable for Sunday’s game with ankle and calf injuries.