Big Step for Brown

Ronnie Brown's rehab from last year's torn ACL continues to go very well, and he's taken another step this week by taking part in 11-on-11 team drills during practice. The next step is training camp, and Brown says he's looking forward to it.

In practice on Thursday, Brown catch a pass down the middle after beating linebacker Joey Porter and also ran the ball a couple of times.

"It's a bigger step, a step closer to getting ready for the season and getting ready for training camp," Brown said.

Until this week, Brown had been limited to individual drills as he continued his rehab from the knee injury he sustained in last October's home loss to New England.

"Ronnie has progressively worked in team drills all week, a little bit more than where he was in (last weekend's minicamp)," said Coach Tony Sparano. "That's good. We got him behind the line a little bit and I think that's helpful."

On those plays when he touched the ball, Brown looked just as quick as he did last season when he broke out with a tremendous performance that had him headed to the Pro Bowl if not for the injury.

On one running play, Brown fell to the ground after being bumped by a defensive player. But getting bumped -- there's no contact in offseason workouts -- was no big deal for Brown.

"At this stage, the main thing is trying to get it out of your mind and not being too conscious of it and just going out there and trying to play without thinking about the injury," Brown said. "I feel comfortable with that situation."

Brown says he's hoping to be able to do full work when training camp starts in July. He says he definitely will be ready for the start of the regular season.

CATCHING A BREAK: The Dolphins were supposed their OTA sessions on Friday, but Sparano told the team after practice Thursday that he was canceling the last workout.

That means that veterans now are done until training camp. Rookies and first-year players will remain in South Florida for more work for a few weeks.

QB UPDATE: With the conclusion of the offseason work, Sparano was asked whether any of the quarterbacks had gained an edge in the battle for the starting job. Sparano replied that the separation between Josh McCown, Chad Henne and John Beck will start taking place in more game-like situations, such as more intense practices and preseason games.

Sparano said that "in an ideal world" he'd have his quarterback decision made by the third preseason game, but that it might not be possible.

Sparano did say he was impressed with the progress made by Henne since the post-draft rookie minicamp.

THIS AND THAT: Nose tackle Jason Ferguson missed practice with an excused absence, while cornerback Joey Thomas was kept out while he's nursing a hand injury. ... Sparano said he's been impressed with the work of third-year wide receiver Derek Hagan. ... Sparano said he's been pleasantly surprised by the work of the defensive backs. ... DT Anthony Toribio, CB Scorpio Babers, C Mike Byrne and WR Davone Bess were the four rookie free agents Sparano mentioned by name when talking about youngsters who have impressed him.


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