DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -With the Miami Dolphins seeking a safety, free agents Donovin Darius and Lamont Thompson found themselves on the same flight from Oakland to try out for the job.
``I asked Lamont, `Where you headed?''' Darius said Wednesday. ``He asked me the same thing. We said, `OK, see you there.'''
As it turned out, the two veterans weren't competing against each other. The Dolphins decided to sign both, so desperate is the team to shore up a thin secondary with a game against the high-powered Dallas Cowboys looming Sunday.
The Dolphins (0-1) found themselves in the market for two castoffs this week because their best safety, Yeremiah Bell, was sidelined for the year in the opener by a torn Achilles' tendon. Backup Travares Tillman is likely to move into the starting lineup Sunday, but it's possible Darius, Thompson or both will play.
And the hope is they'll contribute more as they learn the defensive scheme.
``There are a lot of games left,'' coach Cam Cameron said. ``Later in the season you don't know if one of the guys would have been available, much less two of them. We think both guys are still good players.''
Other teams, however, found Darius and Thompson expendable. Darius was released last week by the Oakland Raiders after nine seasons with Jacksonville. Thompson, a starter the past three seasons for the Tennessee Titans, was released two weeks ago.
``I was surprised,'' Thompson said. ``I thought I did well enough. My peers thought I did well enough. It didn't work out that way.''
Said Darius: ``When God shuts one door, he always opens another.''
They join a secondary considered the weakest area of the Dolphins' defense, especially without cornerback Andre Goodman, who is nursing a shoulder injury and may still be several weeks away from joining the lineup.
Miami has also been hurt by Jason Allen's failure to develop since he was taken in the first round of the 2006 draft. He moved from safety to cornerback during the offseason but wasn't among the seven defensive backs used in the opener.
And now the secondary must brace for a Dallas offense led by Tony Romo, who threw for 345 yards in a 45-35 victory over the New York Giants last week.
Perhaps reinforcements can help. Darius is a former first-round pick who developed a reputation as one of the NFL's hardest-hitting safeties. He has the edge in learning the Dolphins' scheme because he spent two years in Jacksonville under Dom Capers, now Miami's defensive coordinator.
But at 32, Darius is three years older than Thompson and hasn't made it through a season healthy since 2004.
Both are in good shape because they went through training camp. But they were noncommittal regarding whether they expect to play Sunday, and Darius said Wednesday's practice was a learning experience.
``I made sure I stayed around one of the coaches, so whenever I had a question I could get an answer,'' Darius said. ``Being here with Lamont is a plus. We're going through it together. We can learn and quiz each other.''
All-Pro defensive end Jason Taylor said he expects the newcomers to contribute quickly.
``They really don't have any choice,'' Taylor said. ``It's time to go.''

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