Williams still shows plenty of talent

DAVIE, Fla. -- Here are five observations on the Miami Dolphins, based on the July 26-27 practices:

1. Against our better judgment, and because we know the hot-button topic is the guy with the dreadlocks and not the coach with the dreaded stare, we'll address first the prodigal tailback instead of the man who will really determine the direction of the Miami Dolphins' future. Truth be told, maybe it's better to get the topic of Ricky Williams out of the way first, in case he lapses back into reefer madness and bolts again. Our guess is Nick Saban, even now that he knows the enormity of the task in front of him, isn't about to run off to a third-world country. He may retreat into Georgia's mountains, but not some lean-to in say, Nepal.

So here's the straight talk on a guy who hasn't always been able to walk the straight line: Grudgingly, we concede that Williams actually looks pretty good. He isn't back up to his normal playing weight of 225-230 pounds yet, has not taken a really tough lick and hasn't been asked to run with power. But there is little doubt the guy, at least in the first few days of camp, exudes raw talent. He is quick, has not lost the great vision that all successful backs must have, and doesn't seem to be toting around nearly as much rust as most pundits had expected after his year spent trying to discover himself.