The Miami Dolphins signed former Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins running back Larry Johnson on Tuesday after working out several players, including former University of Miami star Clinton Portis, at that position. The team also waived running back Kory Sheets.
Last season, the 31-year-old Johnson played in just two games and rushed for two yards on five carries with the Redskins before getting cut in September. He had over 6,000 yards with the Chiefs in seven seasons. Johnson also spent the 2009 season with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Dolphins are in the middle of a complete overhaul at the running back position. Gone are stalwarts Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, but the team added Reggie Bush via trade with the Saints and also took Daniel Thomas in the third round of April's NFL draft.
Obviously, the team doesn't feel comfortable with having just those two on their depth chart.
Omar Kelly, a Dolphins reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, tweeted this about the Johnson acquisition:
"The Dolphins officially announce the signing of RB Larry Johnson, so scratch all the Portis talk. This is a bit troubling for Daniel Thomas."
Then, Kelly tweeted this:
"Despite that the Dolphins WILL SAY, the signing of Larry Johnson is a clear indication they haven't been pleased with D. Thomas progress."
It seems obvious to Kelly that Johnson's signing is a clear indication of the Dolphins comfort level with Thomas. He's been up-and-down during the three weeks of Dolphins training camp.
In two preseason games, Thomas has carried the ball 16 times for 57 yards and one touchdown. He looked markedly better in his second NFL contest, rushing for 52 yards and his one score against the Carolina Panthers.
But apparently that progression from game one to two hasn't convinced Dolphins' management that he's ready to take on the majority of the team's carries. Miami's search for a veteran back almost ensures that he'll be splitting carries.
We obviously don't know what Johnson has left in the tank, but the Dolphins liked what he offered more than a guy like Portis, who played over Johnson last season in Washington.
For all you people out there who took Thomas high in your fantasy drafts, keep an eye on this situation as it unfolds. The last two preseason games will be important tests for the rookie if he plans on being a primary ball carrier for the Dolphins this season.