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© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2001

Several Dolphins dinged

DAVIE -- Zach Thomas' injured right ankle gives him so much trouble, he feels as though he is an old man when he walks.

O.J. McDuffie's injured left big toe might not ever return to "100 percent normal," Dolphins trainer Kevin O'Neill said.

And this recent snap of cold weather isn't helping Daryl Gardener's back.

Although quarterback Jay Fiedler has grabbed most of the team's recent injury attention with a torn rotator cuff in his left (non-throwing) shoulder, three other well-known Dolphins have battled pain and injury all season.

Gardener, the Dolphins' starting defensive tackle for the past five years; Thomas, the starting middle linebacker for the past five years; and McDuffie, a starting receiver for the past five years, have missed 16 games because of their injuries.

RAVENS: Baltimore practiced at empty PSINet Stadium in Owings Mills, Md., yet it sounded as if 60,000 people were there. Coach Brian Billick had crowd noise pumped over the speaker system in an effort to duplicate the anticipated din Sunday at Adelphia Coliseum for the Ravens' second-round playoff game at Tennessee. ... Strong safety Kim Herring (high ankle sprain) said he doesn't expect to be able to play against the Titans. ... Quarterback Trent Dilfer received a check-up for an ear infection that has been bothering him since the Ravens' trip to Arizona on Dec. 17.

TITANS: Coach Jeff Fisher paid Ravens rookie Jamal Lewis the ultimate blue-collar compliment this week. "What I especially like about him is that he acts like a running back," Fisher said. "He doesn't draw attention to himself. He makes a play and goes back to the huddle and expects to make another."

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