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Former Auburn teammates sharing slump in pros
By STEPHEN F. HOLDER
Published October 14, 2006
TAMPA - Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown will forever be linked by their tight friendship and numerous similarities.
But these days, those parallels aren't the kind the former Auburn teammates had hoped for. While Williams, the Bucs running back, broke out of a seasonlong slump Sunday at New Orleans with his first 100-yard performance, it has been a tough go for him in 2006. Likewise, the Dolphins' Brown has fallen short of the success he had as a rookie last season.
The good news? They're helping each other through the rough patches.
"The NFL is tough," said Williams, who is averaging 54.5 yards a game for the 0-4 Bucs. "One moment, you can be on cloud nine, the next you could be wondering are you good enough to play in the NFL.
"Sometimes (Brown) will get frustrated because the yards aren't coming and they're not winning. And at the same time, I'm in the same situation. But having a close friend like that, it just helps to talk to somebody who knows how you're feeling."
Said Brown, who is averaging 55.6 yards for the 1-4 Dolphins: "Not only is (Williams) a friend but he plays my position. So, he understands me, and I understand him. . . . For some reason or another, it's just not going as planned for both of us. But we'll get it going."
Williams was the offensive rookie of the year in 2005 with 1,178 yards; Brown had 907 yards and 4.4 yards per carry.
WHIRLWIND SEASON: Cornerback Derrick Strait, 26, signed on Wednesday, has had a bizarre season.
During training camp, he was traded from the Jets to the Browns for running back Lee Suggs. Strait was about to step on the practice field in Cleveland when he was summoned back to New York because Suggs failed his physical.
"We were on a break just before practice; I had gone through the morning meetings, then they called me to the general manager's office and told me they were still waiting on the trade to be finalized," he said. "Next thing I know, I'm gone."
Strait started consecutive games at safety for the Jets, but did not play last weekend against the Jaguars. He was released Tuesday.
"I've just had to roll with it," Strait, 5 feet 11, 189 pounds, said. "Basically, you can't do anything about being traded, you can't do anything about where you go. So, wherever you are, just go out and work hard."
READY TO RUN? The Bucs hope to find success against a Cincinnati defense that has allowed an average of 203 rushing yards the past two games.
After the Bucs showed a willingness to mix tosses and sweeps last weekend, the Bengals will have more to consider.
"That's really our first time tossing the ball and getting on the perimeter and running," said Williams, who had 111 yards on 20 carries, including a 34-yard burst against the Saints. "Now teams are not going to be so willing to load up the middle to stop our power game."
INJURY UPDATE: Cornerbacks Juran Bolden (hip) and Brian Kelly (toe), punt returner/receiver Mark Jones (hamstring), tight end Dave Moore (rib), defensive end Simeon Rice (shoulder) and receiver Maurice Stovall (back) remain questionable. Jones and center John Wade, who is probable with a knee injury, missed practice Friday.
Bengals backup quarterback Anthony Wright's appendix was removed Friday after he became ill overnight. Doug Johnson, who was signed in the offseason and hasn't appeared in a game since 2004, will be the Bengals' No. 2 quarterback Sunday.
- STEPHEN F. HOLDER, Times staff writer and TIMES WIRES