Dolphins' Williams practices for first time since suspension
DAVIE, Fla. -- Ricky Williams participated in his first full day of practice Wednesday, his status for Monday's game still unclear.
Dolphins coach Cam Cameron isn't saying whether the running back will play at Pittsburgh.
Williams took part in agility exercises before he gathered with the team to stretch at the Dolphins' training facility. Cameron and a large group of reporters looked on as Williams and his teammates went through drills.
"He definitely had a spring in his step today," rookie quarterback John Beck said. "I don't think I was the only one that noticed that. We're happy to have Ricky on our football team. This is my first time being with him on the team, but I've heard from players on this team, he's a very hard worker and he's going to give us his all."
When asked whether Williams would get playing time Monday, Cameron stuck by his wait-and-see approach.
"It's going to be day-to-day," Cameron said. "And I think that's what's best for our team. I think that's what is best for him."
Williams participated in weightlifting and meetings with teammates Monday, just days after the winless Dolphins welcomed him back from a 1½-year suspension.
"It's kind of like minicamp. You bring guys in, they look great," defensive tackle Vonnie Holliday said. "I didn't get a chance to really watch him, but from what I hear -- the buzz -- he's the same guy. He works hard. You know you're going to get that from Ricky. There's never been a question about his work ethic. On the field, the guy works hard. His problems have been off the field."
Williams has tested positive for marijuana at least four times since Miami acquired him in 2002. He rushed for 3,225 yards in the 2002-03 seasons after being traded to the Dolphins. Williams retired in 2004, but returned to the Dolphins in 2005, when he ran for 743 yards alternating with Ronnie Brown.
Williams said his conditioning level and ability to absorb Miami's playbook would likely determine how quickly he'll play.
"We're just taking it one day at a time," Williams said. It was a phrase he repeated on multiple occasions.
He said he felt comfortable on the field, describing his return as "pretty natural."
"I haven't played football in a year, and then to get on the field and feel it all come back so quickly was a little surprising," Williams said.
A cadre of reporters with television cameras, microphones and recorders crowded around Williams' locker Wednesday; many ignored Beck, who was talking with reporters at the same time.
"We kind of forget that he's here," defensive end Jason Taylor told reporters. "He's one of the guys, you just forget. Obviously, we all know he's here now, because half you people weren't here this whole year. So we see all the cameras and all the attention, so we know something's going on."
A torn knee ligament cut short Brown's promising season, but Jesse Chatman has picked up the slack, averaging 91.6 yards rushing per game. Chatman (ankle) was limited for Wednesday's practice and Cameron said Williams and other backs shared repetitions.
"It's nice to get in there and feel like you're a part of the team," Williams said. "If Jesse would have been out there, I would have been limited. It would have been a little more difficult to get into it."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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