Thursday September 29th, 2011

Steve Slaton has largely been a disappointment since a stellar rookie year. (Derick E. Hingle/US Presswire)

The Dolphins claimed Steve Slaton off waivers Wednesday, the latest chapter in Miami's growing saga at running back.

Miami signed Reggie Bush to a two-year deal in the offseason and drafted Daniel Thomas out of Kansas State. The plan was to use Bush as the team's workhorse back, with Thomas providing some help in short-yardage and red-zone situations.

We're just a little more than three weeks into the regular season, and the Dolphins have already shifted their strategy several times. In addition to bringing in Larry Johnson on multiple occasions, the Dolphins have now turned their No. 1 RB role over to Thomas, with Bush as a complementary player.

While Thomas has turned in back-to-back impressive performances -- 107 yards rushing in Week 2; 95 in Week 3 -- Miami is barely using Bush. In the past two Dolphins losses, Bush has just 46 total yards and two receptions.

The Slaton addition could signal an even further reduction in Bush's role.

Slaton's a similar-type player to Bush -- fast and shifty with the ability to come out of the backfield and make catches. In his rookie season, 2008, Slaton rushed for more than 1,200 yards and hauled in 50 passes. He caught 44 balls the next season, though his rush totals dropped way off the table.

He barely produced anything in 2010 and was kept on Houston's roster for the first three weeks of this season simply as insurance with Arian Foster hurting.

But even if Slaton cannot crack the rotation in Miami, the Dolphins' decision to claim him off waivers signals again that they're uncertain what direction to go in with their backfield.

Thomas figures to keep getting more and more touches, so long as he continues to produce. Beyond that, though ... will Miami get Bush more involved? Is Slaton going to take Bush's spot? Miami still has, as well, third-year back Lex Hilliard, who's more in the mold of Thomas. Long story short, sitting at 0-3, Miami clearly is looking for answers. Whether or not Bush is part of the solution could depend on what the Dolphins' plan for Slaton will be.

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