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Dolphins News: Horace Copeland Signs
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Dolphins News: Horace Copeland Signs
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Oct 01, 1998: -- Horace Copeland Signs --

The team announced today that they have signed WR Horace Copeland to a two year contract for undisclosed terms. In order to make room for Copeland on the roster, the Dolphins waived WR Kirby Dar Dar, who has been a perennial training camp and special teams standout, but has not really contributed to the team as a wide receiver.

Copeland played college football at the University of Miami and was drafted in the 4th round of the 1993 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While in college, he was a 3rd string All-American his senior year and was on the track team, where he set Big East conference records in the long jump, 100-meter dash and high jump.

His first year in the league, he started 8 games, catching 30 passes for 633 yards and 4 TDs. His 21.1 yards per reception ranked third among all NFL receivers. Since then, however, he has not performed as well. He sat out the entire 1996 season with a severe knee injury and while he has always had some big play potential, he has never quite made it back to his rookie form.

Last year, after returning from his knee injury, he did start 11 games for the Bucs, but only caught 33 passes for 431 yards and 2 touchdowns. Of course, some of that was because the Bucs were not a passing team, but many have said that Copeland did not completely recover his athleticism after the 1996 injury.

Copeland was released by the Buccaneers this summer, partly as a salary cap move and partly because they want to see how well their other wide receivers pan out.

Kirby Dar Dar was originally signed as a rookie free agent in 1995 by Don Shula. He played college ball at Syracuse, where he was a running back, but he converted to wide receiver in the NFL. In 1996, he became a special teams standout, especially in punt coverage. In 1997, he looked like he might be ready to play some wide receiver, but was sidelined for the year with a knee injury.

This year, Dar Dar had two great mini-camps, but during training camp and the pre-season games, he didn't play all that well. Following the acquisition of Nate Jacquet and Jacquet's subsequent outstanding play against the Steelers, Dar Dar became expendable.

In other news, the Miami Herald reported this morning that the Dolphins are hard at work on a long term contract for Zach Thomas. Thomas' current contract runs out at the end of this year and he would become a restricted free agent at that time. The Dolphins would like to get him signed to a long term deal before that happens.

There was no word on the amount of money that the contract be worth, but a contract in the $3-5 million per year range is not out of the question, especially if Zach continues to play as well as he has this fall.

But the fact that Zach has been named the AFC's defensive player of the month for September shouldn't hurt his prospects at all. The news came out today that Zach was selected for this honor. To earn it, he registered a team-high 37 total tackles, a sack, an interception which he returned 17 yards for a touchdown, two passes defensed and six quarterback hurries.

My Comments:

This move is not as surprising to me as the signing of Ron Moore yesterday. The handwriting was on the wall for Kirby Dar Dar after he was inactive against the Steelers and Nate Jacquet had such a good game.

I always like the underdogs and I liked the fact that Kirby Dar Dar had a chance to make the team. However, when watching practices this summer, I was not very impressed with him and he has not played well as a wide receiver this year. He is very fast, but that seems to be his only talent.

I wish him the best, but I think that the move to Copeland is an upgrade at backup wide receiver.

It will be interesting to see if Copeland's knee has healed completely this year and if he can get back some of that big play ability that he's had in the past. I don't think that you'll see him play this week, because he'll need time to work with the team and learn the playbook, but he may suit up for the Monday night game against the Jags.

Congratulations go to Zach Thomas for his selection as defensive player of the month. And hopefully, the team will get him signed by the end of the season for about 10 more years....

... well, ok - how about 8 more years?

Seriously, though, if you look at the current roster, you'll see that quite a few of the guys that JJ drafted in 1996 will be restricted free agents after this season, including Zach Thomas, Karim Abdul-Jabbar, Stanley Pritchett, Jeff Buckey and Shane Burton. All of those guys are valuable to the team and the sooner they get signed, the better it will be for everyone.

But clearly, Zach is the most important of the bunch. I applaud Bob Ackles and Eddie Jones for getting this going now - let's just hope they finish up in the not-too-distant future.

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Curt Fennell, curt@phins.com, DOLFAN in New Rochelle (almost)

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