The Miami Dolphins on Thursday brought back defensive end Tank Carradine, one of the surprise cuts during Labor Day weekend.
A need for a defensive end arose when rookie Jonathan Ledbetter sustained an ankle injury in practice on Wednesday.
Ledbetter was placed on injured reserve but should be able to return later this season.
NFL teams can take two players off injured reserve after eight weeks, and Ledbetter and rookie linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel are the logical choices at this point.
Carradine was in Texas training when his agent called him to let him know the Dolphins were interested in bringing back the defensive lineman.
“I was like, Oh, that’s awesome,’” Carradine said. “’I want to go back.’”
He flew back in to South Florida on Wednesday and landed after midnight. He was out at the Miami Dolphins Training Facility at about 5:30 a.m.
“I’m excited to be back, so my juice and everything is up right now,” Carradine said. “Adrenaline’s a good thing.”
A former second-round pick out of Florida State, Carradine was this new regime’s first defensive signing in free agency, and he started the first three preseason games.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores said the Dolphins brought back Carradine because it was an “end for end” swap. But it’s also possible the team would have considered re-signing him after Week 1 when his salary would have no longer been guaranteed for the season.
“Tank’s fast, physical, he’s a good teammate,” Flores said. “We like a lot of things about him. We’re happy to have him back.”
To open the season, the Dolphins opted for an extremely young group of ends — Charles Harris, Ledbetter and Avery Moss, who was claimed off waivers from the Giants.
Ledbetter, the undrafted rookie from Georgia, started in Sunday’s opener against Baltimore and played 51 snaps, finishing with four tackles and half a sack.
Carradine has appeared in 46 NFL games and started eight over six seasons. He has 5.5 career sacks. He expects to immediately rejoin Miami’s rotation and get significant playing time Sunday against the New England Patriots.
“I think they’re going to put me in the mix,” Carradine said. “I’m not for sure yet. That’s up to the coaches, but I think so.”
EX-DOLPHIN SPEAKS OPENLY
Defensive tackle Akeem Spence, cut by Miami before the preseason finale, signed with Philadelphia this week and said he feels compassion for Dolphins players enduring the pain of a rebuild.
“I feel bad for ’em,” he told Philadelphia media on Wednesday. “Those guys don’t have any control over what’s going on. . . . It’s one of those things, man, you shake your head on.”