RUNNING GAME AT STANDSTILL

The Dolphins running game was supposed to be vastly improved this season thanks to the addition of Ricky Williams. But in the first two preseason games, the Dolphins have gone nowhere on the ground, averaging less than 3 per rushing attempt.

But before panicking about the poor results so far — and they have been very poor — consider a couple of factors.

One, the Dolphins have been operating with an offensive line that now will look different after the insertion of Jamie Nails into the starting lineup and the move of Mark Dixon to tackle.

Two, and perhaps more importantly, the Dolphins offense has been terribly basic in the preseason, which makes it easier to defend. Look around the league in the preseason and you will find clearly more low-scoring affairs than shootouts.

Williams has only 26 yards in 13 carries in the first two games, and he isn't worried. And neither is Coach Dave Wannstedt, although he has made it clear he expects opponents to concentrate on stopping the Dolphins running game.

"Running the ball is something we have to work extremely hard at, and we'll continue to do that," Wannstedt said. "We'll be a good rushing team, I'm confident about that.

"We're going to have to spend extra time on that because it's not going to come easy."

Another factor Wannstedt has pointed out throughout training camp is that Williams is the type of back who gets better with every carry, the type who wears down opposing defenses.

The bottom line is that Wannstedt remains confident the Dolphins will be successful running the ball in 2002, and he promises things will be different once the regular season starts.

Said Wannstedt: "You'll see a lot more from a play-calling standpoint than you saw in the first two games."


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