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With Soliai sidelined, Dolphins bring back Isaako Aaitui, Al Lapuaho
With starting defensive tackle Paul Soliai currently recovering from a knee injury suffered in Week 2’s win against the Colts, the Miami Dolphins have beefed up their practice depth at the position by re-signing Isaako Aaitui and Al Lapuaho to the practice squad.
Aaitui (6-4, 315) is a familiar face to Dolphins fans, having originally joined the team’s practice squad in 2011. He went undrafted out of UNLV that April and did not sign with a team during the offseason.
Despite the slow start to his professional career, Aaitui had a strong camp with the Dolphins in 2012 only to be released during final cuts—a storyline chronicled on HBO’s Hard Knocks. The team was aiming to re-sign him to the practice squad, but he was claimed off waivers by the Jets and missed the entire season after suffering a torn ACL in his first practice with his new club.
The New Orleans Saints signed the 26-year-old defensive tackle in May, but he again failed to make a 53-man roster out of training camp and was waived on Aug. 31.
Cornerback Devin Smith—an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin—was released to make room for Aaitui just a week after arriving in Miami. However, his services were no longer needed with veteran corner Dimitri Patterson (groin) and rookies Jamar Taylor (groin) and Will Davis (toe) all returning to practice this week.
and appeared in two preseason games (recording 2 tackles) before being waived during the first wave of cuts on Aug. 26.
Lapuaho was one of two new faces signed to the Dolphins’ initial eight-man practice squad on Sept. 2. He spent a week with the team before being released on Sept. 10 in favor of second-year quarterback Austin Davis.
Third-string quarterback Pat Devlin has missed the first two weeks of the season with an ankle injury, but the release of Davis might mean that he’s healthy or close to it.
The signing of not one but two defensive tackles to the practice squad indicates that Soliai won’t be seeing much or any action in practice this week, even if he does end up playing against the Falcons. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Soliai sit out at least one contest, leaving the very capable Randy Starks and Jared Odrick as starters and Vaughn Martin in a more prominent backup role. Martin had 5 tackles and a sack in the preseason finale but has played just seven snaps (one in Week 2) in the regular season.
I’m obviously more familiar with the work and ability of Aaitui over Lapuaho, so one would expect the two-year veteran to be ahead of the rookie for a promotion if the team wants an additional body at defensive tackle.
Assuming Aaitui is back to full health after last season’s ACL tear, he provides some nice practice depth with a faint hint of upside. Still, he’s never graced a 53-man roster before and hasn’t played a whole lot of football in the past year so there aren’t any real expectations surrounding him.
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