Ronnie Brown Out: Ricky Williams, Cast of Maybes To Carry Dolphins' Rushing Load

The PhinisherCorrespondent INovember 18, 2009

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 15:  Running back Ricky Williams #34 of the Miami Dolphins is brought down by linebacker Geno Hayes #54 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to finish off a 27-yard run to set up a game-winning field goal by Dan Carpenter #5  to beat the Buccaneers at Land Shark Stadium on November 15, 2009 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Buccaneers 25-23.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Ronnie Brown, who was formerly ruled out of Thursday night's game against the Carolina Panthers is now out for the season with a foot injury. At least that is what ESPN is reporting via NFL insider, Adam Schefter and now what the Miami Dolphins have elevated past rumor .

Ricky Williams will now become the feature back and carry a workload that he hasn't seen the likes of in six years. Williams leads the Dolphins backfield with 751 yards from scrimmage this season along with 5.3 yards per carry, the highest average of his career.

Backing up Williams will be the 5'11", 240 lbs Lex Hilliard, who was impressive in preseason action and on special teams throughout the season. Hilliard, a second-year player taken by Miami in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, has shown impressive speed and agility despite his punishing downhill style. He was a standout at the University of Montana and simply looked untackleable at times.

Hilliard also catches the ball very well in the slot and out of the backfield, and should provide decent blocking for Chad Henne as well.

Hilliard has been on the field for some wildcat plays this season, but he has yet to receive a carry.

Also in the mix will be rookie running back Kory Sheets. An undrafted free agent signed by the San Francisco 49ers, the Dolphins pilfered him the week after RB Patrick Cobbs was injured. Sheets was impressive in his four years at Purdue and had a solid combine where he recorded a 4.47 on his 40-yard-dash.

Sheets is a versatile back, who can catch and run with equal authority and may provide some depth in the wildcat formation. At 5'11" and 208 lbs, he will most likely be asked to fill a role similar to that of the injured Patrick Cobbs.

It will be exciting to see if Williams can do with twenty carries what he does with eight carries—meaning dominate. Additionally, it will be interesting to see if Hilliard can emerge as a viable second punch in the Phins dual backfield. Ball control has been an issue for Hilliard in the past though, fumbling twice in 42 carries during the preseason.

In any case, one of these backs will have to step up and provide some relief for Williams, who at the age of 32 is not going to put together very many 32 carry games.