O.J. McDuffie is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list, but it doesn't look like the veteran wide receiver is ready to return anytime soon.<P>In fact, there is a distinct possibility that McDuffie won't play at all this season.<P>

The Dolphins have until Nov. 12 to make a deicision on McDuffie's roster status. If he begins practicing, the team then has 21 days to either activate him, place him on injured reserve or release him.

McDuffie would love to be activated, but his troublesome left big toe probably won't allow that to happen.

"It's not gotten better in two years," McDuffie said. "What's to make me think it's going to get better in 42 days? I just have to figure a way to deal with it."

It has not been easy for McDuffie, who first was injured in a November 1999 game against New England.

McDuffie finished out that season, had two surgeries that offseason, and returned last year after missing the first six games.

He has tried different solutions since then, including an electromagnetic bed and different massage techniques, but nothing has worked.

"I don't feel it's ready," said McDuffie, who led the NFL in 1998 with a team-record 90 catches. "And there's no real need forme to rush out there and hurt it some more. ... You've always got to be optimistic about it, but we all know my foot is what it is."

As far as Coach Dave Wannstedt is concerned, a decision on McDuffie won't come until the receiver says he's ready to go.

"The bottom line is, can he do it or not?" said Wannstedt. "If he felt like he could do it, then we would have to make a determination as far as moving him up or not."

McDuffie has been around the team this season, but there are no guarantees beyond this year. And, sadly, his career could be over if a successful form of treatment doesn't surface.

"I'd love to play the game pain-free," McDuffie said. "Nobody is really pain-free, but this is ridiculous in terms of my position. If somebody tells me something, I'll try it. I've tried everything else."

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