Larry Johnson showed nice athleticism and instincts in the Dolphins' preseason finale last week, but that still didn't prevent the 31-year-old running back with some baggage to his name from getting released by the team during final cuts.
It seems the Dolphins at least liked what they saw enough to keep him on speed dial, as the team re-signed Johnson Wednesday after rookie running back Daniel Thomas tweaked a hamstring in practice.
While Reggie Bush remains the team's anointed "feature back," the Dolphins will need another durable runner to complement and spell him. The former Pro Bowler and 230-pound Johnson can fill that role if Thomas cannot go in Monday's regular-season opener against the New England Patriots.
To make room for Johnson on the active roster, the Dolphins waived third-year guard Ray Feinga. A former undrafted free-agent from BYU, Feinga has bounced between the Dolphins' practice squad and active roster over the past two years and appeared in his first three regular season games in 2010.
Assuming he clears waivers, it is likely Feinga will be re-signed to the practice squad, which has a spot open after tight end Brett Brackett was let go with an injury settlement Tuesday.
Let's briefly address the Feinga release first. I'm sure it comes as a bit of a surprise to many, considering epic third-round bust John Jerry remains on the roster after a horrendous preseason. But Jerry is not practice-squad eligible and I would guess the Dolphins are confident Feinga will clear waivers and will probably end up adding him to the active roster shortly.
As for Johnson, it's nice to see him get a little more time to show what he can do in Miami. He may only be here for a short time depending on how quickly Thomas returns, but Johnson impressed me with his humility and work ethic in the preseason and I'd like to see him resurrect his career a bit.
It's quite possible Johnson could play a role on offense in Monday's game if Thomas is inactive, potentially even leapfrogging current No. 3 back and special-teamer Lex Hilliard. He gives the Dolphins an experienced back that can take a pounding, so five to ten carries really would not be out of the question.
Even better than Johnson returning for depth, however, is that the Dolphins are not tied to him all season. Myself and others had previously stated Johnson's contract as a veteran would be guaranteed if he were on the roster in Week 1. However, Ben Volin reports that NFL players can only receive termination pay once in a career, and Johnson did so with the Chiefs in 2009.
It's hard to say how long Johnson will be in Miami this time around, and it's quite possible it could be a very short tenure. Still, Johnson is getting to continue his shot at redemption and doesn't seem as if he's going to waste it.
As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.
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Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and currently works for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.