Williams returns to Dolphins camp

Updated: July 25, 2005, 1:58 PM ET
Associated Press

DAVIE, Fla. -- Running back Ricky Williams reported to Miami Dolphins training camp on Sunday morning, nearly one year to the day after he told the team he was retiring from football.

 Ricky Williams

Williams, driving a blue sport utility vehicle, arrived at the team's training facility around 8:45 a.m. He did not comment to reporters waiting outside the complex. The team's first formal training-camp media availability is scheduled for Monday.

The 2002 NFL rushing champion decided to seek reinstatement after sitting out last season, saying at the time he'd lost the urge to continue playing. Williams faces a four-game suspension at the start of the season for violating the league's substance abuse program, yet likely will be able to play in preseason games.

Williams acknowledged shortly after retiring that he failed drug tests and faced a suspension for testing positive three times for marijuana.

Williams rushed for 3,225 yards and 25 touchdowns in two seasons with the Dolphins. He informed former coach Dave Wannstedt of his retirement plans last July 23, one week before the start of training camp -- a move that stunned teammates, and played a role in Miami's downward spiral. The Dolphins were 4-12 last season.

"Ricky understands that he has some fences to mend," said his agent, Leigh Steinberg.

A court later found the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner in breach of contract by retiring, and ordered him to repay the team $8.6 million. The team has not yet sought to collect the settlement, and new coach Nick Saban offered Williams another chance to play for the Dolphins.

Saban said he decided Williams deserved another chance despite the risk of souring team chemistry.

"It's a problem only if we let it become a problem," Saban said. "I don't think there's any question he has shown the ability to play effective football in this league."

Williams' return overshadows the anticipated absence Monday of another running back. Ronnie Brown, the No. 2 pick in the draft, is likely to miss the start of camp because he's waiting for top pick Alex Smith to sign with San Francisco before reaching a deal with the Dolphins.

"That's just the way the system is," Saban said with a shrug.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press