The Redskins, who return to the practice field today, cleared a roster spot for cornerback A.J. Johnson yesterday by releasing Johnny Thomas.

Secondary coach Emmitt Thomas said no final decision on Johnson's return would be made until later this week, but all indications are that he'll make his first appearance of the season Sunday against the Miami Dolphins at RFK Stadium.

"We're going to work him hard in practice this week and see how he holds up," Emmitt Thomas said. "We haven't really stretched him out yet, and we want to see how he does with a couple of hard days of practice."

No matter how Johnson does, Johnny Thomas likely won't be back with the Redskins. He was drafted by them in 1987 and returned this season after spending parts of two seasons with two other teams. He was signed in Week 3 when Wayne Davis was released; placed on injured reserve in Week 6, and waived and re-signed two weeks ago.

"They said they were doing it because A.J. was back," he said. "I'm taking it pretty hard right now. I was hoping I'd get a chance to play some cornerback. I'd played only special teams but hoped to get a shot at defensive back. It didn't happen. I just hope the phone rings and someone else is interested." It's a Miami Vise

The Dolphins, with the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense, have yielded only 11.1 points per game and nary a touchdown pass in their last 20 quarters. Earlier this season, they went 13 quarters without allowing a touchdown. They've held opponents to seven points or under in five of their 10 games. They're the only NFL team that hasn't allowed an individual 100-yard rushing game, 300-yard passing game or 100-yard receiving game.

"They've made huge strides defensively," Washington Coach Joe Gibbs said. "They do a great job coming after the quarterback."

No. 24 in defense last season, they've added five new starters.