POSITION ANALYSIS - RB

Before the start of the free agency signing period on Feb. 28, we will examine every position on the Dolphins, grade each player's performance in the 2002 season and evaluate the prospects for the 2003 season. We continue this series with the running backs.

2002 SEASON RECAP

Ricky Williams — What more can you say about Williams? The guy was simply sensational in 2002 and might have contended for MVP honors had the Dolphins made the playoffs. Williams was everything the Dolphins could have hoped for and more, and he was worth everything the team gave up for him, even if it cost them two first-round picks. The only fault you could find in his performance were his fumbles, but that's getting picky. Grade: A

Travis Minor — The Dolphins still think very highly of this guy, although we feel he took a step backward in his second season. The problem we have with Minor is that he's a solid back, but nothing more. Even as a backup, you'd like a little more. Grade: C

Robert Edwards — As wonderful a story as Edwards turned out to be for his incredible comeback, the truth is he was just an average player for the Dolphins. There's a reason the Dolphins demoted him down the stretch, and it had more to do than just the fact he doesn't play much special teams. Edwards simply has lost his breakaway ability. Again, he deserves tons of credit for just making it back. But it doesn't look like he'll ever be an impact player. Grade: C

Leonard Henry — The Dolphins think highly of him, too, which is why they promoted him from the practice squad late in the season. But he's another guy who just doesn't show much pizzazz. For his 2002 season, it's tough to judge him too harshly, though, because he never got on the field. Grade: Inc.

OUTLOOK FOR 2003

The Dolphins have some concerns at different spots throughout their roster, so even though they could use some upgrading in the backup spots here, don't be surprised if the same cast of character returns next season.

Edwards has expressed an interest in moving on so he can get some playing time, but he's an exclusive-rights free agent and the Dolphins have indicated they'll tender him an offer.

Williams obviously will be the feature back again, and it's likely Minor will have the inside track at the backup spot, with Edwards and Henry having the chance to compete throughout the offseason and training camp.

It would be very surprising if the Dolphins spent a draft pick on a running back, and signing a free agent at the position would almost appear out of the question.

The bottom line is the status quo very well could prevail at running back.


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