Major Role?

While retired tailback Ricky Williams skirts the globe, the Miami Dolphins are scrambling for a replacement before opening training camp next week. While the Dolphins are scouring the market for a runner, the man with the first shot is already under contract.

Former Seminole Travis Minor has been a valuable asset for the Dolphins over the past three seasons as a backup. Minor, the third-leading rusher in FSU history, has toiled mainly as a kick returner the past two seasons since the acquisition of Williams.

"Travis will enter camp as the No. 1 tailback," Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said.

"Travis has been exceptional. Every time his number has been called, he has responded. He'll do it now. I talked to him today and he is excited about an opportunity."

According to the (Ft. Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel, Minor learned of the news while driving from New Orleans down to Miami for the upcoming camp.

"I'm definitely excited about the opportunity," he said. "At the same time, I'm going to miss losing a teammate like Ricky, who has also been a friend."

Minor has rushed 144 times (4.5 yard average) with five touchdowns in his NFL career but has contributed mostly on special teams. He has been a mainstay returning kickoffs for the Fins, attempting 80 in the past two seasons combined.

In 2002, his 23.3 average per return ranked eighth in the AFC. That season, he had his best game as a pro, returning seven kicks for 215 yards at Denver.

"Hopefully now I will have a bigger role, which I anticipate," Minor said. "I'm just going to come to work like I have been since I've been there, and I look forward to doing good things."

"I have confidence in my ability to play football. I'm going to put my best foot forward and do what I have to do to step up and perform so that I give the team the best chance to win."

Though Minor will get the first shot at the job, reports have the Miami interested in Detroit's James Stewart, Houston's Stacy Mack, and Minnesota's Onterrio Smith to fill Williams' shoes. All fit the big-back mold Wannstedt likes in his ball control offense.

Minor also has to prove himself to the Dolphin faithful, as well. In a recent Miami Herald online poll, just 23% of those who responded said Minor was the guy for the job. A Sun-Sentinel poll had 53% of fans picking Miami to win seven or less games this season.

Regardless, his teammates are standing behind him. And, given the circumstances, they don's have a choice.

"He's a heck of a back," quarterback Jay Fiedler said. "He's had limited opportunities being behind Lamar Smith and Ricky over the last three years, but every time he gets in the game he's made some big plays for us. So we're going to expect him to continue making those plays, just a little bit more often now."

NOTE: Quotes from this story were taken from a statements taken from a Dolphins release.


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