Job Review: Running backs

Now that the 2007 Dolphins mercifully is behind us, we try to figure out what went wrong. In this series, we'll examine every position on the team, evaluate performances from this past season and assess the likelihood of each player returning in 2008. This installment features the running backs.


Contract status: Signed through 2010

2007 Season: Why Booker didn't get to play sooner is one of the great mysteries of this past season. He was on the inactive list for the first seven games, and when he finally got his chance, Booker made a lot of nice plays with his quickness. He proved effective running the ball or catching passes out of the backfield.

Will he be back?: Booker not only will be back, but he should play a much bigger role on offense from the start next season.


Contract status: Signed through 2010

2007 Season: By far the biggest highlight of this horrible season was the breakout performance of Brown. When he got hurt in Week 7 against New England, Brown was leading the league in total yards from scrimmage and he was playing as well as any running back in the league.

Will he be back?: Brown obviously will be back, but the big question is whether he can regain his form after sustaining a torn ACL.


Contract status: Unrestricted free agent

2007 Season: After a couple of years out of the league, Chatman proved a very solid backup after taking over for the injured Brown. Chatman ran hard and also looked good catching passes out of the backfield. He did slow down late in the season after being hampered by injuries.

Will he be back?: Chatman very much would like to return, and there's no reason to think the new regime won't want him back at the right price.


Contract status: Exclusive-rights free agent

2007 season: Cobbs looked very good in the preseason and that earned him a spot on the team, but then he was pretty much relegated to special teams.

Will he be back?: There's no reason the Dolphins wouldn't bring him back to compete for a job again next summer, even though he's pretty a long shot to make the team.


Contract status: Unrestricted free agent

2007 season: Signed midway through the season after injuries hit the position, Gado showed some good things when given the chance, particularly in the game at Buffalo.

Will he be back?: Gado is a decent running back, but at some point the Dolphins might have too many guys at the position. It's difficult to envision the Dolphins re-signing both Chatman and Gado, and we think Chatman is the bigger priority.


Contract status: Signed through 2010

2007 season: It was a major surprise that Mauia beat out Cory Schlesinger for the fullback job, and we frankly didn't see any evidence in the regular season that it was the right call. Mauia had his moments as a blocker, but he also showed no hands and therefore can't help in the passing game. His limitations are a big reason the Dolphins used so much two-tight-end in 2007.


Contract status: Signed through 2008

2007 season: Well, it certainly was brief. After finally being reinstated more than a month after his application, Williams got into the lineup at Pittsburgh and then was gone with a torn pectoral muscle after six carries.

Will he be back?: Not if we are to take Parcells at his word after he said he wanted high-character guys who are dependable. But, as is always the case with Ricky, he's way too good a running back to simply let him walk. The Dolphins already have exercised their option to pick up the last year of his contract and probably will listen to trade offers, if any come, in the offseason.


The Dolphins ended the season with five NFL-caliber running backs on their roster, so depth clearly wouldn't seem to be an issue. But the truth is the health of Ronnie Brown next July is one of the biggest personnel question marks facing this team heading into the offseason. Adding a running back in the draft is a possibility, but this team has bigger needs at other areas. Besides, Parcells' M.O. has been to build up his offensive and defensive lines first, and also focus more on defense. So we're thinking that even if they hang on to the first overall pick, Darren McFadden shouldn't be assumed as a lock to be the guy.

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