The Miami Dolphins have actually had minimal roster churn this year, especially for the constantly acorn hunting Jeff Ireland front office. However, this week seems to have changed that to some degree. Last night, the Dolphins announced they had waived defensive tackle Isaako Aaitui and safety D.J. Campbell, both of whom could be re-signed to the practice squad if they clear waivers.
Aaitui first joined the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2012, but was among the last roster cuts at the end of the preseason. Miami planned to sign him to the practice squad, only to find out that the New York Jets had claimed him off waivers. In his first practice with the Jets, Aaitui tore his ACL and missed the remainder of the season.
He then joined the New Orleans Saints this offseason, but was again released at the end of the preseason. Miami added him to the practice squad in the middle of September, when Paul Soliai suffered an injury, with Aaitu eventually working his way up to the active roster and appearing in four games.
Campbell was drafted in 2012 by the Carolina Panthers, spending most of the year on the 53-man roster, but inactive on game day. He did start at strong safety for the Panthers in four games near the end of the season, and was expected to compete for the starting job this past offseason. Instead, he lost the job and was placed on injured reserve with a leg injury. After reaching an injury settlement, Campbell was released by the Panthers in September, and signed with the Dolphins practice squad in October.
He was promoted to the active roster and made his Dolphins debut against his former club this past Sunday, playing three snaps on defense and fifteen on special teams.
With the moves, the Dolphins opened two roster spots. Today, the team filled the first of those with the signing of defensive tackle A.J. Francis off the New England Patriots' practice squad. Francis signed with Miami back in April as an undrafted free agent, and was a standout during the preseason. The Dolphins released Francis with plans to put him on the practice squad, only to see the Patriots claim him. Ultimately, the Patriots placed him on their practice squad, and he has not made an NFL appearance yet.
Under NFL rules, Francis will count against the Dolphins' 53-man roster for the next three games. The Dolphins face the Patriots for the second time this season on December 15.
Miami also made a practice squad move today, signing running back Cameron Marshall and releasing wide receiver Jasper Collins. Marshall spent training camp with the Dolphins, but was among the first round of roster cuts made by the team. Running back Daniel Thomas was injured during the team's game against the Panthers, and will likely miss the remainder of the season with a torn ligament in his ankle. The Marshall signing could be insurance in case something happens to Lamar Miller, Marcus Thigpen, or Mike Gillislee.
With all the moves, the Dolphins still have an open spot on the 53-man roster. They could open another position if Thomas is unable to return and is placed on injured reserve. Miami also has a decision looming on activating suspended guard Richie Incognito, who has only one game remaining on his maximum four-game suspension.