The Miami Dolphins on Sunday signed running back Mark Walton, one day after the team's head coach defended the player who was arrested three times within a three-month span since he entered the National Football League last year.
Walton, 22, a 2018 fourth-round pick out of the University of Miami, was said to have showed promise at rookie minicamp over the weekend. He was waived by the Cincinnati Bengals last month.
Walton is currently facing a felony charge for carrying a concealed weapon, as well as misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession, reckless driving and resisting a police officer without violence following the March incident. He also was charged with misdemeanor battery in February and misdemeanor marijuana possession in January.
Walton spoke with reporters on Saturday, avoiding questions about his legal situation while showing appreciation for the opportunity to turn his NFL career around.
"There's a lot of things that were happening in the offseason, but right now my focus is on the task at hand, and right now that's trying out for the Miami Dolphins and that's what I'm going to talk about right now," Walton said.
Dolphins head coach Brian Flores told reporters he believes people deserve a second chance.
"I don't want to judge people based on one incident (or) two incidents," Flores told ESPN. "I think it's a case-by-case situation for a player and just for people in general. That's kind of my stance."
It's not clear yet if the NFL would suspend him for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
He was released by the Bengals two days after his third arrest, with Bengals coach Zac Taylor saying the team needed to more forward without him.
"It's important for our team to get off to a fresh start as we begin the 2019 season," Taylor said, according to Bengals.com. "For that reason, we felt it best if we move forward without Mark Walton. We hope his situation gets resolved, but we don't want to take anything away from the good work that so many other players have already begun to demonstrate."
During his 14-game stretch with the Bengals last season, Walton had 14 carries for 34 yards and five catches for 41 yards.
Walton was born in Miami, went to high school at Booker T. Washington and played college football at the University of Miami.
He's expected to compete with Miami running backs Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage; the latter was drafted in the same round as Walton in 2018. The team also picked running back Myles Gaskin in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
"He's a talented player," Flores said of Walton. "We wanted to definitely take a look at him and see if he was a fit for us on the field (and) off the field."