<
>

Russell focused on making Dolphins

8/5/2004 - Miami Dolphins

Editor's note: Running back Fred Russell, signed by the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Iowa, will chronicle his training camp experiences for ESPN.com.

The talk of our training camp has mainly focused on who is not here rather than the guys on the field in the sweltering south Florida heat, knocking heads trying to get ready for the season.

Obviously the unexpected retirement of Ricky Williams was huge news. I got to know Ricky a little bit in our mini-camps and offseason workouts. He seemed like a nice guy. When I heard the news that Ricky retired I actually thought the person telling me was fooling with me. But it turned out to be true.

Ricky made his decision more than a week ago and when I arrived here in Davie, Fla. all I had to do was look at my locker to see Ricky was gone.

The locker I was assigned by the Dolphins was Ricky's old locker. His name was removed from the nameplate and my name was in its place. On the opening day of camp I took all the jokes because of who used to have my locker. A bunch of the guys on the team and some of the reporters who cover the team came over and said 'Hi Ricky, how's it going?' and 'Man, Ricky you've really lost some weight.' Those were popular lines from my new teammates.

But once we got on the field I forgot about Ricky. He's not here and we have to focus on getting ready for the season. All the buzz in the media has been about who will replace Ricky and if we'll bring somebody else into camp. The only thing I've thought about is doing what I need to do to make the team.

I've done several interviews since Ricky quit and in each interview I'm always asked about how Ricky retiring affected my chances for making the team. My answer is pretty simple in that I see my chances of making the team the same way as when I signed with Miami after the draft. My thing is that I'm looking to come here and compete for a spot on the team and that hasn't changed regardless of who is the number one tailback on the depth chart.

I'm just trying to show the coaches that I'll do anything necessary to make the team. I've tried to show them that I can run the ball inside or outside and that I can catch the ball coming out of the backfield, which is something I didn't get a chance to show when I was at Iowa. I also have gotten some work in as a kickoff and punt returner since camp started.

I think I've done fine but I always want to do better. I've broken a couple of long runs in practices but I'm not satisfied. I want to do better and I want to learn something new about our offense every day. I'm studying the playbook every night after our meetings are completed and I'm getting better acquainted with our offense every day.

Hopefully in the next few weeks the big story out of our camp will be my play and not who used to have my locker.