Williams revives career in Miami

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The last time Ricky Williams rushed for 1,000 yards he was 26 years old and his NFL career hadn't yet taken all the twists and turns that made him more notable for his life off the field than on it.

Dolphins running back Ricky Williams, who has rushed for 1,055 yards, set a record this year for longest span with 1,000-yard rushing seasons.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Dolphins running back Ricky Williams, who has rushed for 1,055 yards, set a record this year for longest span with 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

When he reached the milestone last weekend he set an NFL record for longest span between 1,000-yard seasons -- six years.

"It seems like it was another lifetime ago," Williams said of that 2003 season when he ran for 1,372 yards before abruptly retiring from football. "I've been through so much and I've done so much outside of football as well as in football that it seems like a long time."

At 32, his resurgence has helped absorb the loss of Ronnie Brown and keep the Dolphins playoff hopes alive heading into Sunday's game against Houston. Williams has 1,055 yards rushing, 11 rushing touchdowns and two TD catches. His 4.8 yards per carry average is tied for a career high that he set when he ran for an NFL-leading 1,853 yards in 2002.

"I'm having more fun with it," he said. "I think as I've gotten older and I've been away from the game, I think I appreciate this opportunity more than I have in the past."

At an age when most running backs see their production plummet, Williams' play this season has conjured memories of the hard-running style that helped him win the Heisman Trophy at Texas and rush for at least 1,000 yards in his first four NFL seasons.

Coach Tony Sparano believes Williams' success this season is a tribute to the way he prepares and conditions.

"He seems to be handling it and holding up very well," Sparano said.

Williams enjoys hearing people say he doesn't look his age on the field, but does admit to being a little beat up after carrying the ball 219 times this season.

"I don't feel 32," he said. "When I'm on the field I still feel explosive and in my mind it's the same way I remember when I was 22. The biggest difference is I've learned over these years how to do a better job taking care of myself and making that a priority."


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