The Dolphins' already shaky secondary got a little thinner today as cornerback Michael Lehan was placed on injured reserve. Lehan had been bothered throughout the preseason and regular season with ankle and hamstring injuries.
Replacing Lehan on the Dolphins' roster will be a familiar face, as cornerback Joey Thomas gets the call. A member of the Dallas Cowboys prior to the 2007 regular season, Thomas lost out to Nathan Jones for the fourth cornerback spot in Miami and was released during final cuts.
Originally drafted by the Cleveland Browns out of Minnesota in 2005, Lehan spent three seasons with the team before being waived in he 2006 offseason. During his time in Cleveland, he appeared in 32 games (four starts) and amassed 52 tackles and two pass deflections.
The Dolphins originally signed Lehan as a free agent in May 2006 under Nick Saban. He appeared in 15 games included two starts, recording 18 tackles and two pass deflections.
Lehan experienced a breakout season under Cam Cameron in 2007, starting a career high 14 games and recording 57 tackles, one interception and seven pass deflections.
An ankle injury landed Lehan on the PUP list to begin training camp in 2008. He went on to appear in three of the team's preseason games, recording a pass deflection and an interception.
Prior to going on injured reserve, Lehan had appeared in five games (two starts) for the Dolphins in 2008 and recorded six tackles and a pass deflection.
A third-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2004 out of Montana State, Thomas has played for both the Packers and Saints in his NFL career. He has also gone to training camp with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007 and later played for the Edmonton Eskimos.
The Dolphins signed Thomas as a free agent on February 8, 2008. During the 2008 preseason, Thomas appeared in three games and recorded 5 tackles, an interception and a pass deflection. He was released following the preseason, losing out on the final cornerback spot to former Cowboys teammate Nathan Jones.
While Miami's secondary has struggled quite a bit, this isn't a huge loss for the Dolphins because Lehan hadn't been contributing much this season. After a very strong showing in 2007, nagging injuries hampered Lehan throughout the preseason and the regular season, relegating him to a backup role.
The loss of Lehan likely means Nathan Jones - primarily a special teamer this season - will see more time on defense in nickel and dime packages. First-round disappointment Jason Allen should also see increased playing time as a result of Lehan's injury. Essentially, Jones will replace Lehan on defense, while Joey Thomas will replace Jones on special teams.
Thomas has been a disappointment for most of his NFL career, and his talents are primarily limited to special teams. If he ever has to see extended time on defense, the Dolphins are in trouble.
The Dolphins are very thin at cornerback and can't afford any more injuries to the position if they want to keep games close. If I'm Jeff Ireland, I'm calling Ty Law's agent to see if something can be worked out.