|Ricky Williams' burst is back|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 12 November 2008 12:23|
These days he's tackling the works of author Carlos Castaneda. He's savoring Barack Obama's victory. With plans to become an osteopath, he's taking college classes in writing and math.
Oh, and his burst is back. Miami Dolphins boss Bill Parcells noticed it last week at practice. So did general manager Jeff Ireland. Coach Tony Sparano saw it, too.
When Ricky ran, he looked faster. More explosive. Better.
``I saw a little bit of an extra gear,'' Sparano said. ``Jeff, Bill - they're saying the same thing. It was a reason why we wanted to get Ricky a little more involved.''
Given a more prominent role Sunday, Williams had a breakaway run and breakout game. He scored on a 51-yard sprint, reached the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time since 2005 and helped the Dolphins win their third game in a row by beating Seattle 21-19.
. As a backup to Ronnie Brown, Williams showed only occasional flashes of the speed and power that helped him win the Heisman Trophy in 1998 and the NFL rushing title in 2002.
After playing only 13 games from 2004 to 2007, there were rumblings the 31-year-old Williams had lost a step. But against the Seahawks, when he took a straight-ahead handoff near midfield in Miami's Wildcat formation, he dashed through a big hole and scored untouched.
``He came out of there like he was shot out of a cannon,'' Sparano said.
When asked if he felt faster Sunday, Williams smiled.
``I'm always fast,'' he said. ``I just don't get that much open space.''
He hasn't been getting that much playing time, either. In the three games before Miami beat Seattle, Williams totaled 17 carries. He reached that number by halftime in his workhorse days - before retirement, violations of the NFL drug program and a suspension rendered him idle for much of the past four years.
Williams said he's not unhappy about his reserve role this season, but added it's difficult to contribute much with limited playing time.
``I understand the situation,'' Williams said. ``Ronnie has been playing well all year, and we've been winning, so I'm not going to complain.
``But sometimes I'm on the sideline for a whole quarter, and it's tough to get into the game.''
ond play for 11 yards. His next two carries were for 7 and 9, and soon Miami led 14-0. Williams looked quick and strong, punishing tacklers by exploding into them for extra yards as he went down.
``Every time Ricky Williams gets the ball, he runs with a purpose,'' quarterback Chad Pennington said. ``He runs with a passion. I would not want to be a linebacker trying to tackle him. He always delivers the blow. You never see him going backward unless he is gang-tackled. Those little inches add up, and by the fourth quarter I think they get tired of hitting him.''
Williams finished with 12 carries, still a modest total by his old standards, but enough for 105 yards. He also caught two passes and picked up blitzes as a blocking back.
It was a near-flawless performance, the sort that would impress the author Castaneda. Williams has been absorbing his training of traditional shamanism.
``What's he teaching me? To be impeccable,'' said Williams, the Dolphins' leading bookworm. ``In whatever you're doing, just be impeccable. It's good stuff.''
Williams hasn't read Obama's books, but they're high on his list.
``I think he's going to be the first role model I've ever had,'' Williams said. ``I want to be a doctor, and that's not going to be easy. Looking at his story definitely motivates me to do my homework.''
With him and Brown as a one-two punch at running back, the Dolphins' ground attack was expected to be their strength. But blocking has been spotty, Brown hasn't had a 100-yard game since Oct. 5, and Miami ranks 20th in rushing.
``The running game hasn't been as good as we would have liked,'' Williams said.
He's averaging 4.4 yards per carry to Brown's 3.9, so maybe Williams will be busier down the stretch. He's comfortable the Dolphins want to keep finding ways to get him the ball.
``I think they think I'm a good player,'' he said.