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Williams rejoins Dolphins after suspension

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins made a substantial
offensive upgrade Monday, adding a certified yoga instructor and
student of holistic medicine notorious for his shyness and
mercurial behavior.

Yes, Ricky Williams is back.

Returning from a four-week suspension that followed a one-year
retirement, Williams took part in the team's brief walkthrough
session. He'll rejoin practice Wednesday and likely play Sunday at
Tampa Bay -- his first game since December 2003.

The Dolphins (2-2) won't burden Williams with the heavy workload
that helped send him to Australia and India for an extended
vacation. Instead, he'll share time with Ronnie Brown, the No. 2
overall pick in the April draft, who rushed for 229 yards in the
past two games.

At times they'll line up in the backfield together, a
potentially potent combination.

"Maybe we can create some problems and issues for teams by
doing that," coach Nick Saban said.

With Tampa Bay rookie Carnell "Cadillac" Williams expected to
return from leg injuries that forced him to sit out last week, the
game shapes up as a showcase for running backs.

And the focus will be on the Dolphins' Williams, who has
received interview requests this week from about 20 national media
outlets, a number worthy of Dan Marino in his prime. Williams
declined every request, saying he'll wait until after he plays in a
game to talk with reporters.

He returned from retirement this summer knowing he faced
suspension at the start of the season for violating the NFL drug
policy. Williams was allowed to take part in team meetings and lift
weights with other players, but he was prohibited from attending
practice or games. He worked out on the practice field alone.

"It was kind of weird to see," Hadnot said. "We're coming in
and he's going out -- a dayshift, nightshift kind of thing."

In the aftermath of Sunday's 20-14 loss at Buffalo, Saban showed
more patience talking about Williams than when discussing Miami's
team-record 18 penalties or the botched punt snap that led to a
Bills touchdown.

The Dolphins' first-year coach declined to say how much he
expects Williams to play Sunday. But the reaction of Williams'
teammates to his return is no longer a worry, Saban said.

"The thing they were most concerned about is that he had a
commitment to come back and try to help the team be successful,"
Saban said. "I think he showed that. The work he did since he was
suspended has also earned him respect as far as how he goes about
what he's trying to do to help his team be successful.

"That issue has gone under the bridge, under the next bridge,
over the next dam and is gone."

Following Williams' abrupt retirement in July 2004, the Dolphins
lost their first six games and finished 4-12, their worst season
since the 1960s. He now owes the Dolphins $8.6 million for
breaching his contract, and motivated partly by the need for a
paycheck, he accepted Saban's offer to return this season.

When he reported at the start of training camp, Williams
publicly apologized for the impact caused by his retirement.
Teammates have unanimously embraced his return.

"It's a whole new year," guard Rex Hadnot said Monday. "Last
year has nothing to do with this year. I don't carry that with
me."

Even running back Sammy Morris, who will see less playing time
with Williams on the roster, spoke favorably of his enigmatic
teammate.

"The thing I admire about Ricky is that Ricky is going to be
Ricky, regardless of what people think about him," Morris said.
"That's not real common in society. People change who they are to
try to fit in. Ricky doesn't really care what people think. I
admire that."

Williams is admired most for the way he carries the ball, and
the 2002 NFL rushing champion showed a few flashes of his old form
during the preseason, leading the Dolphins with 126 yards rushing
on 30 carries.

One goal in practice this week will be to determine how much
rust he accumulated while suspended.

"We need a little time to figure that out," Saban said.
"We're going to take it from where it is and build for 12 games."