<
>

Rookie won't rest on big first game

8/19/2004 - 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.

Finally after weeks of preparation we got our exhibition season underway last Saturday against Jacksonville.

The big thing is that we won the game 16-5. Secondary was the way I performed. I returned two kickoffs for an average of 23 yards. I was really happy when I ripped off a 31-yard return and displayed the shiftiness, speed and strength that I'm going to need to show the coaching staff if I'm going to get the return job.

I also had nine carries for 101 yards, including an 88-yard run in the fourth quarter. I wish I would've scored a touchdown on the play but the defender lunged at me, knocked me off balance and another guy tackled me. I really wanted to score but believe me, it felt great to get on the field and play in a game situation. I was also proud that I was one of only two running backs to run for 100 yards in the first full week of preseason games.

Besides hopefully catching the eye of the coaching staff and helping my cause to make the team, the reward for my 100-yard game was an appearance Sunday on ESPN Radio's football show with Sean Salisbury and John Clayton. It was real cool talking with Sean and John. I really respect their opinions on the game and I'm very thankful they gave me the opportunity to be on their show.

While I was pleased with the way I carried the ball, I don't think I'm going to be given the starting job just because I had a 100-yard game in our first exhibition game and Sean and John had me on their show as a guest.

I fully understand that Travis Minor and Sammy Morris are our top two backs and if I'm going to make the team I'm going to have to make my mark on special teams. Someday I want to be a starter, but right now I've got to break the ice on special teams or being a third-down back. Once I get used to that, I'll start looking at becoming a starter. It's good to have big goals, but you've got to be realistic about the goals and just take them step by step.

My goal every day during practice is to work hard and do something to help my chances to make the team. Right now my best chance to show what I can do is on special teams because Travis and Sammy are getting the majority of reps at running back. I'm pretty sure our special teams coach Keith Armstrong knows I'll do anything to help the team.

In addition to being used as a return man, coach Armstrong said he's going to use me on punt coverage and maybe as a punt rusher because of my speed. I haven't played on the coverage units since my first two years at Iowa. Remembering how to do it came back to me quickly since we work with coach Armstrong every day. Hopefully when I get a chance to tackle somebody, I can put a real big hit on them.

I'm not resting on what I did against Jacksonville. I still haven't made the team so I go all-out every day in every practice, study the playbook every night and hopefully my hard work will pay off with a spot on the team.