Dolphins Roundup 8/27/04

Compiled throughout the day from a variety of sources

- Although facing other obstacles toward a return to the NFL, a source said Thursday that Ricky Williams was prepared earlier this week to rejoin the Dolphins until the tailback learned the team had no interest in giving him a new contract.

Unhappy with an incentive-laden deal that would pay him $3.73 million in 2004, the source said Williams approached coach Dave Wannstedt and General Manager Rick Spielman about the possibility of a return provided he received "a significant raise." Williams was told that wasn't a possibility, with another source adding Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga would never agree to financially reward a player whose abrupt retirement in late July caused so much harm to the franchise.

"He was interested in playing until he saw they were not going to give him a new contract," the source said. "I don't believe he's going to play again this year. I think he's going to take a year off and try to come back next year and be traded."

Agent Leigh Steinberg, who also reportedly spoke with Wannstedt and Spielman, did not return telephone calls seeking comment. Wannstedt and Spielman declined comment.

The Dolphins recently sent Williams a letter warning he had until Monday to report or face the recoupment of $8.6 million paid by the team and the New Orleans Saints over the previous five seasons. Williams and Steinberg agreed to recoupment provisions in a restructured contract the Dolphins gave the tailback in 2002.

An ESPN report Thursday stated that Williams' approach toward the recoupment issue is, "`Well, let's see what can happen in terms of a court of law deciding that the NFL deserves that money that I earned in incentives instead of my three children.'" ESPN also reported that Williams "doesn't have that $8 million to give them back. He says he's been poor before. He hasn't been happy with his contract, but he says this is not a negotiating ploy."

Even if he did end a vacation in Australia and report to the Dolphins, there are no guarantees Williams would be cleared to play in 2004 because he filed retirement papers as a three-time violator under the NFL's substance abuse program. NFL rules state that applying for reinstatement before next August would count as a one-year mandatory suspension because Williams would be credited with a fourth failed test.

But a source said Williams thinks a lesser penalty from the league was likely if he wanted to return.

"He was under the impression he could work it out with the league and miss just four games," said the source, referring to the mandatory penalty for his third failed drug test for marijuana. "He really believes the league would allow [that]."

Not only would the league have to reinstate Williams, the Dolphins also would have to welcome him back. That might not be so easy, considering Williams' actions and continuing comments that are upsetting his former teammates.

In particular, there is growing resentment toward Williams as he takes shots at the Dolphins from a distance. Williams' latest gripes about the franchise concerned his unhappiness with logging an NFL-record 775 carries over the past two seasons and the promotion of Chris Foerster to offensive coordinator instead of Marc Trestman when Joel Collier resigned in May.

Sources told the Sun-Sentinel on Wednesday that Williams thought his heavy workload was going to continue under Foerster, while Trestman would have presented a more diversified offense.

"The players in this locker room just looked at it and laughed," Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain said. "It has become a sideshow. I see no way in hell that he comes back, especially the way he put people off when he left.

"He made a grown man's decision, and that was fine if he didn't want to play football. What pissed people off was he broke the code [of the locker room]. He didn't have to talk about other players when he left."

Defensive tackle Larry Chester was just as critical.

"He is acting like a bitter girlfriend," Chester said. "He is just looking for someone to lash out at. It doesn't bother me that he wants to be happy, but he doesn't have to tear other players down to do it. That's not right.

"If he wanted to come back to this team, it would depend on the circumstances as far as I'm concerned. He doesn't just owe the fans a big apology. He owes a lot of players in this locker room apologies. He keeps getting attention and causing a circus that no one in this locker room is interested in."

- The Dolphins tried to address the tailback and wide receiver positions before trading defensive end Adewale Ogunleye to the Chicago Bears earlier this week.

A source said the Dolphins wanted to acquire Bears tailback Anthony Thomas and wide receiver Marty Booker in exchange for Ogunleye. But Chicago wouldn't agree to that package, instead offering wide receiver David Terrell and Thomas, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2003 who lost his starting job this offseason to Thomas Jones.

Dolphins management clearly preferred the more established Booker to Terrell, who has failed to log more than 43 receptions in a season since being the eighth overall selection in the 2001 draft. That resulted in the Dolphins instead accepting Booker and a 2005 third-round draft choice for Ogunleye.

The Dolphins may use that pick in a trade for a tailback to augment a rushing attack that was greatly weakened by last month's retirement of Ricky Williams. But the Dolphins are unlikely to surrender such a high selection for a player entering the final year of his contract unless an extension can be reached before a trade is consummated.

One player who falls into that category is Cleveland's James Jackson, who has drawn strong interest from the Dolphins.

Browns coach Butch Davis said he is adamant about receiving no less than a third-round pick for Jackson, which is thought to be greater compensation than what the Dolphins are currently willing to offer.

"If offered a fourth-round pick [or lower], we're better off having him here helping us win games," Davis told USA Today on Wednesday.

- Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said he plans to split snaps between tailbacks Travis Minor and Sammy Morris in Saturday night's exhibition game at Tampa Bay. Minor has gained only 15 yards on 13 carries in the first two exhibition games, while Morris sat out last Saturday's 17-0 loss to Washington with a concussion.

"I want to see a little consistency," said Wannstedt, who also plans to give fullback Rob Konrad some snaps at tailback. "We're close. It's not just the offensive line. It takes the back making the right cut. This should be interesting. I need to see more of those guys with more playing time in all situations."

Wannstedt said Antuan Edwards would start at free safety but rotate each quarter with backup Arturo Freeman. Rookie right guard Rex Hadnot may receive some snaps with the first-team offense in the third quarter and may soon be pushing Taylor Whitley for a starting spot.

"He's going to be a real good player," Wannstedt said of Hadnot. "It's just a matter of when."

Terrence Wilkins, who missed the first two games with a hamstring injury, will handle kickoffs, along with Fred Russell. Sam Simmons and Wilkins will handle punt returns.

Receiver Marty Booker will play Saturday but won't start. Receiver Bryan Gilmore, picked up from Arizona, will play only on special teams

Tackle Damion McIntosh will see a doctor this week and in a best-case scenario, could return as early as next Friday's exhibition finale at New Orleans. Wannstedt said he considers McIntosh a starter, and he could supplant Wade Smith at left tackle.

Wannstedt said he ''would like to get a couple good drives out of'' Jay Fiedler to start Saturday's game before switching to A.J. Feeley, who will play through most or all of the third quarter. Sage Rosenfels will play the fourth quarter. Boooooooooo!!!

The Dolphins currently have 84 players on the roster.

The Dolphins practiced in shells Thursday for approximately one hour and a half. The practice, originally scheduled for 2 p.m., was moved up to 11:15 a.m.

Head Coach Dave Wannstedt (on who will start the game against Tampa on Saturday) - "With the quarterback situation, Jay (Fiedler) will start, and he will probably get a few series and maybe the first quarter. The plan is to play our starters into the third quarter – offensively probably most of the third quarter. A.J. (Feeley) then will get the second and third, and then Sage (Rosenfels) will come in in the fourth. The rest of the positions, we’re going to try to get in Antonio Freeman a little bit better. Marty Booker, we’re going to put him into the game, but how much he can do, I’m not sure at this point. We just have to play that by ear. He will play and we’ll try to get him the ball a little bit if we can. He won’t start, that wouldn’t be fair to him. It would really limit what we could do on offense. The motions, the shifts, and the adjustments, he’s not there yet."

Head Coach Dave Wannstedt (on the guys who are replacing Adewale Ogunleye and whether they can give similar production) – "If we didn’t believe that David Bowens and Jay Williams could win for us – and I think that’s the key, could line up and win and make plays for us – we wouldn’t have done this. We have a lot of confidence in those two guys. The fourth and maybe the fifth defensive end spots right now are up for grabs."

By The Source
Aug 27, 2004
© Copyright 2004-2005

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