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Missing star

Saints are in good shape, but Williams is absent

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Posted: Wednesday April 18, 2001 6:38 PM

  Ricky Williams Head coach Jim Haslett says Williams has been working out independently and will be at minicamp next week. Todd Warshaw/Allsport

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The New Orleans Saints are missing just one player from their offseason workouts -- Ricky Williams.

"I talked to him last night at 11 o'clock," head coach Jim Haslett said on Wednesday. "We had a good conversation and he'll be in here next week for minicamp. I expect him to stay after that."

Haslett, who emphasizes the importance of the work done this time of year, said he wasn't happy that his star running back had not taken part in the offseason work, but he said he understood that Williams had things to do.

"I just want to make sure that when he comes in here he's in the right frame of mind, and he's ready to go, so we can march forward," Haslett said. "We have everybody here but Ricky, and he knows that."

Williams, who broke his left ankle in November and missed the rest of the season, is healthy, in good shape and has apparently been working out on his own, Haslett said.

After then-head coach Mike Ditka traded all the 1999 draft picks and a No. 1 and No. 3 in the 2000 draft for Williams, his rookie year was marred by a string of injuries that started in the preseason. Last year Williams was effective in both the running and passing game. He had rushed for 1000 yards before his injury.

Both Haslett and Mueller downplayed William's absence.

"If you remember, last year he was in school in Austin and didn't get here for the offseason program until May 1," Mueller said. "We still have a lot of time and the majority of your offseason program to complete."

The Saints probably have the highest attendance in the league for their offseason program, Mueller said.

"Like I said last year, I think this is the most well-conditioned team I've been around," Haslett said. "I expect the same this year."


 
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