Camp preview: Running backs

The Dolphins will open their 40th training camp when they hold the first practice on Monday, July 25 at the team's training facility in Davie. We preview what should be an interesting camp under new head coach Nick Saban with a position-by-position analysis of the team heading into camp. In this installment, we look at the running backs.

Running backs on the roster: Ronnie Brown (rookie), Lamar Gordon (4th season), Kay-Jay Harris (rookie), Travis Minor (5th season).

Summary: The big story at this position involves a guy currently not on the roster but expected to be back in late July, that being Ricky Williams. It's not expected that Williams will be eligible to play until the fifth game of the season, Oct. 16 at Tampa Bay, but his return should change considerably this position. Of course, Williams' sudden departure last summer left the Dolphins scrambling at running back and they wound up stockpiling players at the position in the hopes of finding an answer. Since no answer was found, new coach Nick Saban then decided to take Ronnie Brown with the No. 2 overall pick last April. What Williams' return means is the Dolphins now have a ton of options and -- believe it or not -- just might have the deepest corps of running backs in the league come late October.

The battles: It's pretty clear the Dolphins didn't draft Ronnie Brown No. 2 to come off the bench, so it would be a major shock if he wasn't the opening-day starter at halfback. Things get a little more complicated once Williams becomes eligible because, contrary to what some have suggested, Williams is too good not to use a lot if he's right. Whether that means Williams starts and Brown shifts over to fullback to join him the backfield, or Brown still starts and Williams gets a lot of playing time as the backup, or Williams starts and Brown gets a lot of playing time at halfback and fullback, we don't know yet. But, again, it's difficult to imagine Williams not being used at all. And we also don't see a trade happening with him until after the offeason. As far as who will make the roster at this spot, there could be a difficult decision assuming the Dolphins keep five backs. Brown, Williams, along with fullbacks Heath Evans and Sammy Morris appear safe, which means Travis Minor, Lamar Gordon and rookie free agent Kay-Jay Harris would be battling for one spot. Or maybe the Dolphins keep six backs. This position will create a difficult decision.

Projected opening-day starter: Ronnie Brown

Projected on the opening-day 53-man roster: Brown, Lamar Gordon, Travis Minor (Note: Ricky Williams is expected to be activated to the 53-man roster for the Oct. 16 game at Tampa Bay)


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