The Way Things Are Going

When Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas got into a minor fender-bender after Sunday's humiliating 49-28 loss to the Patriots, it seemed to typify what has become one season-long car crash for 0-7 Miami.

On Monday, the hits kept coming as Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, the NFL's leader in yards from scrimmage and the lone bright spot from the darkest season in franchise history, was declared out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL of his right knee.

Brown had finally lived up to his 2005 overall No. 2 draft pick this year by carrying the Dolphins offense over the past month. He not only was leading the league in first downs, but his career-best 5.1 yards per carry helped the Dolphins lead the NFL with a 5.0 yards-per-carry average. An amazing accomplishment for a winless team.

"His spirits are up," said Dolphins coach Cam Cameron. "He's already talking about getting the surgery and getting ready to get back in rehab and being ready for the spring. As you guys know, I don't know where he is statistically, and I told him I was going to hold off on any comments for about another however many weeks, he was having a Pro Bowl season.

"There's a lot of resolve in this guy. He's committed to getting this taken care of and getting back, coming back even stronger. He is an impressive, impressive young man."

Brown's 991 yards from scrimmage, including a career-high 39 catches for 389 yards, accounted for about 42 percent of the entire offensive production. It will be tough to replace him, but Cameron said that Chargers retread Jesse Chatman will get the call, as will second-year running back Patrick Cobbs and rookie tailback Lorenzo Booker, a third-rounder out of FSU who will finally be activated.

Brown's absence will allow the surging Giants' pass rushers to pin their ears back and come after inexperienced quarterback Cleo Lemon, who hasn't faced much pressure in his two starts this season against the Patriots and Browns. The Giants have 27 sacks, and now don't have to worry about Brown gashing them.

The Dolphins also lost yet another safety as Renaldo Hill also blew out his right ACL and is out for the season. That takes care of the starting safeties, as strong safety Yeremiah Bell sustained a season-ending Achilles' tear in the season opener against the Redskins. Backup safety Travares Tillman has been out a month with a knee injury, and rookie safety Courtney Bryan left the game Sunday with a strained quad.

Eli Manning will study the Patriots-Dolphins game film and watch how Tom Brady dissected an overmatched secondary, especially now that 2006 draft disappointment Jason Allen and former special teams specialist Cameron Worrell are back there. Cameron also may put converted cornerback Travis Daniels in center field as well. He said that he and general manager Randy Mueller will be scouring the waiver wires this week in search of some experienced safeties.

Recently, Cameron cut veteran safeties Lamont Thompson and Donovin Darius after brief stays with the team. He appears down on Darius, who struggled with a calf injury and then took himself out of the Browns game after the first quarter with flu symptoms.


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