Dolphins Watch

September 6, 2009 5:47 PM

Chiefs cut Thomas; next stop: Miami?

Last week, a rumor circulated saying former Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas was set to retire.

Agent Drew Rosehaus denied it, but it may become a reality sooner than Thomas thinks. Sunday, the seven-time Pro Bowler was cut by Kansas City after failing to appear in any preseason games.

The question is: What now? Does Thomas hang up his cleats, and hope to one day hear his name called for the Hall of Fame?

Or, does he decide on one more regular season run, perhaps with the Dolphins?

Miami made its final 12 roster cuts over the weekend, with the most prominent names released being wide receiver Brandon London, defensive tackle Rodrique Wright and offensive lineman Nate Garner. Tight end David Martin was also placed on injured reserve.

But if you take a close look at the roster, you'll notice the Dolphins are only carrying three inside linebackers: Channing Crowder, Akin Ayodele and Reggie Torbor.

Crowder is the starter at Mike inside linebacker, Ayodele is the Mo inside linebacker, and Torbor backs up Ayodele.

Ayodele is also Crowder's backup, which means an injury to him would be especially devastating to the team.

Provided Thomas has fully recovered from an undisclosed injury -- and Rosenhaus said he was close to returning to the field last week -- wouldn't he fit right in at his old position, backing up and mentoring Crowder as he did when the former Gator first entered the league?

Thomas was cut last year by the Dolphins, in one of the first big moves in the Bill Parcells-Tony Sparano era.

But, if Parcells and Sparano were willing to take back Jason Taylor this year after the soap opera that played out last preseason, wouldn't they be willing to take back Thomas, who was still a functional player after tallying 65 tackles and 29 assists with the Cowboys in 2008?

And you know Thomas would like to return to the team he started his career with, especially with the Dolphins becoming winners again.

It would be the perfect ending to a great career, and he and brother-in-law Taylor could ride into the NFL sunset together.

Will it happen, though? At this point, it's pure conjecture. It would be a great story, to be sure. And judging from the Dolphins depth chart, perhaps a necessary move as well.

Smith starring
One thing is certain as the Dolphins prepare for opening day against Atlanta, rookie Sean Smith will be the starting cornerback. Smith topped a good preseason with an outstanding one-handed interception against the New Orleans Saints last Thursday, in Miami's 10-7 win.

The play has already hit You Tube, and it cemented Smith's place as the most intriguing rookie on the team this year. It was the second interception in three preseason games for the former Utah star, who started college as a wide receiver.

At 6-foot-3, 214 pounds, Smith is exactly the type of big, athletic corner the Dolphins need, now that they have to tangle with Terrell Owens and Randy Moss twice a year.

Also, with the current trend in the NFL towards big receivers, Smith may be the first in a wave of big corners defensive coordinators will look to in an attempt to stem the tide.

SI picks Dolphins second
The current NFL preview issue of Sports Illustrated picks the Dolphins to finish second in the AFC East, behind the New England Patriots.

Peter King projects the Dolphins will finish 8-8 and out of the playoff picture, while New England will go 13-3 and win Super Bowl XLIV.

I'll have my own prognostication later in the week, but I've written before that the Dolphins could have a better team and finish with a worse record by virtue of their tough schedule.

Williams re-signs
Ricky Williams re-signed with the Dolphins for one year, $4.35 million. That's a substantial raise from the $3.4 million he's scheduled to make this year as Ronnie Brown's backup.

Williams plans on retiring after next year to pursue a career in holistic medicine. Williams, 32, averaged 4.1 yards per carry last year, and gained 659 yards rushing. He also caught 29 passes for 219 yards and scored five combined TDs.

If he does decide to retire after next year, it's safe to say Dolphins fans will have mixed emotions, and wonder what might have been.

Williams only had four 1,000-yard seasons, with his apex coming in 2002, his first year with the Dolphins. That year, Williams set a team record with 1,853 rushing yards, and he scored 16 TDs, another Dolphins record for running backs.

The following season, he had another big year with 1,372 yards and nine TDs.

But carrying the load took its toll, and Willliams famously "retired" prior to the start of the 2004 season, taking with him all hopes for a Dolphins Super Bowl run, and eventuially costing Dave Wannstedt his job as head coach.

Williams was burned out and needed to recharge, and in doing so may have cost himself a chance at true greatness on the football field.

His career will always provide one of the great "what ifs" in Dolphins history.

(Photo: Yahoo Images)

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