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Shula understands where Csonka is coming from. "I think he wants it in the worst of ways," says the coach. "He wants to end on a positive note. The guy has immense pride."
Says Csonka, "There's no other reason for me to be here but to prove that I can do it one last time. I'm not here for the money. I took a crack at that before. If I give up football my family isn't going to desert me and my friends aren't going to care. I don't have that many friends, but most of the ones I do have were with me before my football. I just want one more go-around. I'm not satisfied with what happened in New York. I'm not satisfied to be a spot player."
Csonka is one of five fullbacks in the Miami camp. Leroy Harris, who started last year and gained 512 yards, is back, along with veteran Jim Braxton, and there are two young prospects, fourth-round draft choice Steve Howell from Baylor and free-agent David Morgan.
After the first few days of training camp Csonka was complaining last week that he was "still a step slow off the ball." He said, "I'm not at home with this offensive line yet. Until I get the plays, the personalities and the probabilities down, I'll be a step slow. But, then again, I never was a speedster."
Still, Shula seemed to be pleased with Csonka's progress. "The starting fullback job is between Csonka and Harris," he said. For now, though, Shula has listed Csonka, who is 20 pounds heavier and six inches taller than Harris, as No. 1 on the depth chart.
"Listen," said Shula, "I didn't bring Csonka down here just to use him on third and one."
Maybe not, but as Csonka said, "With the Giants I had a good ratio of getting the first down on third and short, fourth and short. If I can do that, Shula can use me. I think he feels that anything else will be a bonus. But I'm going to try for everything I can get. I can be a great threat as a blocker for Delvin Williams or Gary Davis, and I'm strong and quick enough to be effective in the power running game.
"I realize I don't have a buffer zone to fool with. I don't run the 40 in 4.7.1 don't have that cozy feeling I used to have when I was here before, but I keep things in perspective. Any time you try to win everything, you must be willing to lose everything. When I go out on the field now, it's just like picking up the bones and rolling 'em."
When his comeback is over, Csonka hopes that he will be able to enjoy one last laugh at the expense of a Miami organization that staged a welcome-home benefit for him. As a token of its affection for Csonka, the group presented him with the videotape highlights of his football career since he left the Dolphins. The tape was all of one inch long.