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Dolphins unsure how Williams would be welcomed back

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Just when the Miami Dolphins thought they were done talking about Ricky Williams, news of the wayward running back's imminent return to the NFL put him back in his former teammates' thoughts Wednesday.

And not all of them were happy to be thinking and talking about whether Ricky will run for the Dolphins again.

Even during a week away from South Florida, the Dolphins couldn't get away from the specter of Williams, who stunned the team with his abrupt retirement before training camp. His departure precipitated Miami's freefall into its first losing season in 16 years, leading to coach Dave Wannstedt's resignation two weeks ago.

Defensive end Jason Taylor was among Williams' harshest critics when the running back walked away. When asked how Williams might be welcomed back to Miami, Taylor essentially bit his tongue.

I don't know. Everybody is different,'' Taylor said.Everybody has different opinions of the situation. If it happens, then we'll deal with it then, but everyone's reaction is going to be different.''

While the Dolphins (1-9) were holed up in a San Francisco hotel this week preparing for Sunday's game against the 49ers, Williams was taking holistic medicine classes at a school about 180 miles northeast of the Bay Area _ and his lawyer was working out a deal to get Williams back in the league.

According to his lawyer, Williams hopes to move from the retired list to the suspended list Dec. 5, when he'll serve his four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

After that, he would be under contract to Miami again _ and the Dolphins would be forced to decide whether to welcome back a player who quit on them, or work out the best trade possible for a talented player with serious drawbacks to potential suitors.

Or release Williams.

Given the Dolphins' dismal season and nonexistent running game, most of the players feel they're in no position to pass judgment on Williams _ and what's more, not all of the Dolphins share Taylor's animus.

As a teammate, I'd welcome him,'' defensive end David Bowens said.I'm cool with it. First, he owes an apology. It's about his teammates. (But) I'm always a forgiver. It's something for Rick and the guys upstairs. It's obviously going to be after the season.''

The Dolphins never found an effective replacement for Williams, who rushed for 3,225 yards in his two seasons with Miami.

Sammy Morris has started the last five games and is averaging 3.6 yards per carry, while Travis Minor still is hobbled by the sprained ankle that sidelined him for five weeks. Morris also missed the Dolphins' practice at the City College of San Francisco on Wednesday with a rib injury.

It's unclear how Williams' possible return would affect the Dolphins' federal lawsuit against the running back after an arbitrator ruled he owes the team more than $8.6 million for breaching his contract.

Defensive tackle Bryan Robinson, who joined the Dolphins in September, wouldn't have a problem with Williams' return.

I don't know Ricky, so I don't have any animosity toward the guy,'' Robinson said.I'm all about giving a guy a second chance. I've played against him, and he's a heck of a back.''

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