Morris' suspension leaves Dolphins in the market for a RB
Associated Press
1 September 2006

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) - With backup running back Sammy Morris facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's steroid policy, the Miami Dolphins will be in the market for a replacement as they set their regular-season roster this weekend.

The Dolphins must reach the league-mandated limit of 53 players Saturday. But as other teams make cuts, Miami will try to upgrade at a few positions - especially running back.
Morris will miss the first four games after testing positive last October for ephedrine, said his attorney, David Cornwell. The stimulant is banned by the league, but Cornwell argued a faulty lab test was triggered by medicine Morris took for nasal discomfort. Morris' appeal was rejected following three hearings.

Coach Nick Saban declined to comment specifically on the suspension, which the league has yet to confirm.

"We support our players," Saban said Friday. "But our players have to do what they need to do to abide by the rules."

The suspension leaves the Dolphins scrambling to add depth at running back. They open the regular season Thursday at Pittsburgh against the Super Bowl champions.

With Ricky Williams suspended for the season, Miami already was counting on second-year back Ronnie Brown to assume a workhorse load. The Dolphins' other running backs are Travis Minor, Kay-Jay Harris and rookie Gerald Riggs Jr. The trio totaled 111 yards in four preseason games.

Because of injuries, depth is also thin in the offensive line and secondary. Saban acknowledged Miami will be shopping for players.

"As it happens, we'll evaluate it and see if there's any way we can improve our team," Saban said. "If something comes up that makes sense for us, we'll certainly be interested in doing it."

But he offered no hint regarding cuts. Among those on the bubble is second-year defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson.

"You've got a little butterflies, because you don't know what your future holds right now," Vickerson said. "It's the nature of the business. That's how it goes. It's out of my hands. I'll be better in a couple of days when I find out what's what."

Five rookies are likely to make the team: first-round pick Jason Allen at defensive back; third-round choice Derek Hagan at receiver; fourth-round pick Joe Toledo at guard; seventh-round choice Frederick Evans at nose tackle; and undrafted Marcus Vick at receiver, kick returner and quarterback.

Vick played all those positions in Thursday's final exhibition game. Taking snaps in a game for the first time since being kicked off the Virginia Tech team, Vick handed off twice, scrambled for no gain and took a knee on three plays.

On the sideline, teammates hollered for him to pass.

"We wanted him to throw the ball, see what he's got," defensive end David Bowens said.

The Dolphins beat St. Louis 29-9 to finish the exhibition season 2-2. The drudgery of the preseason quickly gave way to the anticipation of the opener at Pittsburgh.

"It's kind of hard to get up for those preseason games," linebacker Channing Crowder said. "Now you know it's real. You're playing the defending world champions. It can't get any better than that."