AFC East: Dolphins WR Excited About Culpepper

Notes from around the AFC East. The Miami Dolphins have had their fair share of troubles with injuries and turnover. A solid defense and strong ground game has kept them competitive, but change is in the air. One receiver isn't worried about it knowing that Culpepper can be the man to lead them back to the top of the AFC East. Kelly Campbell can't wait to play ball with his former QB again.


Kelly Campbell couldn't have picked a better spot to attempt re-launching his NFL career than with the Dolphins.

After not playing for the entire 2005 season, Campbell has joined a team that is looking for improved depth at wide receiver and competition at returner to push incumbent Wes Welker. Plus, new Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper played with Campbell in Minnesota from 2002 to 2004.

"It was really tough having to sit out and watching the other guys play on Sunday," said Campbell, who was released last September by the Vikings. "Now I'm back in the game that I love and am ready to go play."

As a third wide receiver, the 5-10, 173-pound Campbell was once a favorite option of Culpepper's in Minnesota. Campbell caught 25 passes for 522 yards and four touchdowns in 2003 and followed that with a 19-catch, 364-yard campaign in 2004. Of those 44 receptions, 16 went for longer than 20 yards.

"Kelly Campbell is an extremely fast player," said Culpepper, who was traded to the Dolphins in March. "He makes a lot of big plays. He's very enthusiastic. I like to play with guys that have a knack for the big plays and he is one of those guys. I am just glad to be able to hopefully link up with him again."

That excitement is shared by Campbell.

"It's amazing to have a quarterback like Daunte," Campbell said. "He is a big guy. There's not a lot of guys who can run real good with that much weight on him. His arm strength is amazing. He does a very good job of throwing the deep ball and as a receiver you can't ask for anything better than that.

"I love playing with Daunte. I had a great time in Minnesota. Now we're just going to bring those times down here."

Campbell, though, will first have to make the Dolphins roster even though he feels extremely confident about his chances. Campbell will be competing with Welker and draft choices Derek Hagan (third round) and Devin Aromashodu (seventh) for what will likely be three roster spots behind starters Chris Chambers and Marty Booker.

"I think I've been in the league long enough to show everybody I am capable of being the third receiver, that I can help out and that I'm a great player," Campbell said. "I feel like I'm a great player, so no, I'm definitely above making the roster. I've been past that a long time ago."

But Campbell admits sitting out last season was a humbling experience. Campbell tore a quadriceps muscle in training camp, which ultimately led to his release, and raised character issues in February 2005 when charged with possession of marijuana and theft by receiving stolen property involving a handgun. Campbell, an Atlanta resident, reached a deal with the Fulton County District Attorney to avoid a trial, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

"If I mess up now, you might not get another opportunity," said Campbell, who was signed by Minnesota as an undrafted college free agent from Georgia Tech in 2002. "That's how I'm approaching it. Everything is behind me. I'm not looking back in the past."


--Running back Ricky Williams finally became a member of the Toronto Argonauts, although the Dolphins don't seem thrilled about it.

It appeared Miami coach Nick Saban has strong reservations about allowing Williams to play in the Canadian Football League in 2006 as he serves a one-year NFL drug suspension. But Saban ultimately gave his blessing in light of Williams' desire to address some of his financial problems by playing for the Argonauts.

"We expressed to Ricky our concerns about playing in Toronto in 2006," Saban said in a team-released statement. "We are relying on assurances made by Ricky, his agent, the Toronto Argonauts, and the commissioner of the Canadian Football League that Ricky will return to the Dolphins in 2007."

The earliest Williams can be reinstated by the NFL is April 2007, agent Leigh Steinberg said. Williams has agreed to remain in the NFL's substance-abuse program during his suspension, which means he is subject to 10 random drug tests a month.

--Former Dolphins general manager Rick Spielman has returned to an executive role by becoming Minnesota's new vice president of player personnel.

Spielman was with the Dolphins from 2000 to 2005, being promoted to the general manager's position in 2004. Working hand in hand with coach Dave Wannstedt, Spielman came under fire as the Dolphins posted a 4-12 record in 2004. Spielman's decision to send a second-round draft choice to Philadelphia for quarterback A.J. Feeley was heavily criticized.

Spielman was stripped of much of his authority when Nick Saban was hired as Dolphins head coach in late 2004. Spielman and the Dolphins then parted ways last June, leading to him becoming an ESPN analyst.

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