With the numbers thinned by a shoulder injury that could sideline starter Andre Goodman until the beginning of training camp, the Miami Dolphins have claimed third-year veteran cornerback Derrick Johnson on waivers, hoping he will provide some depth.
Released by the Atlanta Falcons earlier this week, Johnson will have an opportunity to win spot as the No. 4 or No. 5 cornerback on the roster, and as a special teams contributor. His chances might be enhanced by the absence of Goodman, who underwent surgery to repair his left shoulder this week.
Johnson, 25, last season split time between the Houston Texans and the Falcons, playing in five games, but finished the year on injured reserve after breaking his arm. He was with the Falcons this spring, but additions in free agency and the draft made him expendable.
A former University of Washington standout, Johnson was chosen by San Francisco in the sixth round of the 2005 draft. He appeared in 14 games with the 49ers as a rookie and had 40 tackles and four passes defensed, playing largely in dime coverage packages.
Johnson is regarded as having decent speed coverage skills but needs time to develop. With the uncertainty in the Miami secondary, and a new coaching staff, the opportunity with the Dolphins could be a good one for the young cornerback.
In 19 career games, Johnson has 42 tackles, one sack and four pass deflections on defense. He also has nine special teams tackles.
A five-year veteran who started 15 games for the Miami Dolphins in 2006 and who is vying for a spot on the No. 1 defense again this season, Goodman reinjured his left shoulder two weeks ago during a minicamp practice and likely will miss the rest of the team's offseason program. The shoulder was first surgically repaired in January, when doctors inserted pins to stabilize it. Goodman injured the shoulder twice in 2006, and missed just one game.
The team's cornerback situation in general is unsettled, with Will Allen, Travis Daniels and Jason Allen all challenging for starting spots. The team's first-round choice in 2006, and a disappointment in his rookie campaign, Jason Allen is moving to cornerback after spending last year at safety.
Goodman, 28, recorded 41 tackles and nine passes for Miami in 2006, his first season with the team. He signed on with the Dolphins last spring as an unrestricted free agent, having played for the Detroit Lions the first four years of his NFL career..