The lowdown on Brown

The Dolphins are headed to Jacksonville for their second preseason game having completed three weeks of training camp, and they remain without first-round pick Ronnie Brown. When will he sign? How far behind has he gotten? How good will he be early? Clearly, there are a lot of questions surrounding the former Auburn running back.

Here are some thoughts on Brown himself and the whole situation:

-- With Alex Smith and Braylon Edwards, the first and third picks in the draft, having signed, one would think it shouldn't be too long before Brown follows suit. But the truth is there has been no indication that anything is imminent. With three of the first six picks in the draft -- Cedric Benson and Adam Jones -- are the others, this is where you wish the NFL had the NBA's system for rookie contracts, where players don't make so much on their first deal but rather on their second. Of course, because of the physical nature of football, players don't want to take the chance of incurring an injury before being able to cash in.

-- It's just the Dolphins' luck that the first time they have a top five pick since they were still in the AFL they have to deal with the unfortunate side of having such a high pick, the contract issue. The bright side here is that, based on everything we've heard, there's every reason to believe Brown has been keeping himself in good shape during the negotiations and it shouldn't take him that long to get himself in football shape once he gets to camp.

-- As far as catching up to the other running backs, let's be realistic here. The only way Brown isn't in the starting lineup on opening day is if he doesn't sign before the end of the preseason. The Dolphins have built up some quality depth at running back since last year, but the only front-line guys they have are Brown and Ricky Williams, and Williams isn't playing until the Oct. 16 game at Tampa Bay.

-- We've said it before and we'll say it again, don't be surprised to see Williams play a significant role once his suspension ends. Part of that is that Williams is just too good a back not to use, the other is that Brown might be a very good prospect, but he doesn't strike us as your typical, can't-miss No. 2 overall pick. Really, Brown isn't a prospect in the class of LaDainian Tomlinson, who was the No. 5 pick in the 2001 draft. Of course, we'd love nothing more than to be wrong about Brown and for him to be a star from the beginning, but we have our reservations about that.

-- Imagining a worst-case scenario where the season begins with Brown still unsigned, at least the Dolphins are in better shape than they were last year. Our best guess would be that Sammy Morris would handle the load at running back until Williams became eligible, with a little help from Lamar Gordon. The Dolphins simply would throw the ball more often than they might otherwise. Regardless, it looks like the Dolphins will feature the pass more with Scott Linehan running the offense than they did in their terribly conservative offense of the last several years.

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