Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dolphins sign RB Tristan Davis to practice squad

With an opening on the practice squad after last week's promotion of linebacker J. D. Folsom, the Miami Dolphins have signed rookie running back Tristan Davis to fill the vacancy.

Undrafted out of Auburn in 2009, Davis signed with the Detroit Lions in late August and spent the first seven weeks of the regular season on the team's practice squad.

Background

An Atlanta native, Davis redshirted at Auburn University in 2004 before appearing in 12 games for the Tigers as a running back and safety in 2005. He rushed for 209 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries as a redshirt freshman.

Davis did not have a carry during his sophomore and junior seasons as a reserve tailback behind Kenny Irons, Ben Tate and Brad Lester.

However, he did set an Auburn single-season record with 756 kickoff return yards in 2006, while also recording 13 tackles as a safety and special teams player.

Davis contributed in all facets as a senior in 2008, rushing for 44 yards and a touchdown, adding 42 yards as a receiver, racking up 657 yards and two touchdowns as a kick returner, and recording two tackles and a forced fumble on special teams.

Despite running a 4.38-second 40-yard dash in March, Davis (5-10, 212) was not selected in the 2009 NFL Draft and remained unsigned during NFL training camp.

He eventually signed with the Detroit Lions on Aug. 24, appearing in the team's final two preseason games and rushing for 114 yards and a touchdown, including a 79-yard score against the Buffalo Bills in the preseason finale.

After being waived during final cuts on Sept. 5, Davis was re-signed to the Lions' practice squad, where he remained until his release on Oct. 29.

As a practice squad player, Davis will make $5,200 per week and will not count toward the 53-man active roster or be eligible to play in games. He can be signed to another team's active roster at any point, so long as the signing team keeps him for at least three weeks.

Analysis

A borderline NFL prospect, Davis is one of those running backs that doesn't do any one thing supremely well and doesn't have any measurables that jump out at you. He's just a solid all-around back with a good build, good speed and the ability to play special teams.

It seems a bit curious the Dolphins replaced Folsom on their practice squad with a tailback, as the team already has four on the active roster and there doesn't seem to be much need for another for practice purposes.

It's possible that Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams is more banged up than we know, and Davis will help rest the big boys in practice. It could mean the team isn't all that impressed with Lex Hilliard and Kory Sheets, and wanted to take a look at someone else. Or, it could just mean that the Dolphins are doing their due diligence and taking a look at another NFL prospect.

One thing that is certain is that Davis is likely very far from being activated and seeing playing time on Sundays. His potential as a return man and special teams tackler helps his chances of sticking around, but he's really just auditioning to stay with the team on a day-to-day basis.