Friday, October 14, 2005

Ongoing Battle...

Below is a great story about Ronnie and Carnell from Today's Miami Herald...

Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams vied for top billing at Auburn and still are competing to see which is the NFL's top rookie running back.

The Dolphins' Ronnie Brown and the Buccaneers' Carnell ''Cadillac'' Williams are laid-back, soft-spoken NFL rookies. They became best friends while splitting time in the backfield at Auburn. Because of their tight bond, each always has looked to the other for motivation.

''Whether eating a bowl of ice cream, playing PlayStation, or running a 40-yard dash,'' Brown and Williams always have been competitive, said Auburn running backs coach Eddie Gran. ``In the back of their minds, one always wants to outdo the other, and this week is probably more special.''

Williams and Brown will be on opposite sidelines when the Buccaneers play host to the Dolphins on Sunday. And even though some might wonder how the two are dealing with having to go head-to-head, Williams and Brown are trying not to make this weekend's game about themselves.

''This week won't be any different,'' Williams said. 'I'm not going into this game looking at, `I want to pull this, or I'm better than him.''

Williams, drafted fifth overall by Tampa Bay, has blossomed into one of the league's biggest stories. He became the first player in league history to rush for at least 100 yards in the first three games of his career.

Despite a slow start, Brown, who the Dolphins took with the second overall pick, has averaged 114.5 yards in the Dolphins' past two games.

''People try to make both of them come against each other because they think it's just a show,'' said Sherry Williams, Cadillac's mother. ``They've done just about everything together. Off the field and on the field, he and Carnell are the best of friends. It's not a front.''

Cadillac Williams, who arrived at Auburn a year after Brown, said, ``We stayed and stuck by each other.'' Aside from perhaps a friendly wager, Brown and Williams don't plan to hype their highly anticipated first meeting. Williams, who was inactive last week with a sprained left foot and sore hamstring, might not play.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden downgraded Williams from probable to questionable Wednesday, though he left open the possibility Williams will play in ''some capacity'' against Miami. Williams estimated he has a 50 percent chance to play.

Sherry Williams said she will root for both players but gives her allegiance to Tampa Bay. She gushed about Brown, saying he's like a son and that watching him play gives her the chills, because "I know he is going to make a run.''

In a sign of her admiration for Brown and her son, Williams said she goes online every week and gives each a vote for Rookie of the Week. She also tries to watch both of their games on television.

Cadillac Williams' celebrity is amplified in his hometown of Attalla, Ala., which has a population of about 6,600 and is about 60 miles northeast of Birmingham.

''We can't find any Bucs hats,'' said David Bowman, Williams' ninth-grade football coach at Etowah High in Attalla. ``There aren't enough to go around.''

Williams ranks seventh in the NFL with 447 rushing yards through four games; Brown is 16th with 321 yards. When asked who would be the better running back on the field this weekend, a sheepish Brown quipped, ``I am, no doubt.''

Brown excels with speed to the outside, as a receiver and blocker, Gran said, and Cadillac Williams is a ''slasher'' with explosive inside speed. Gran said Williams' attention to detail separates him from other running backs.

At Auburn, Williams and Brown both became powerful runners. Last year, Williams racked up 1,165 rushing yards, and Brown ran for 913, as the Tigers finished with a perfect record and ranked second in the country.

Gran said they never became jealous and never complained about splitting time. ''They just fed off each other, and you could see the excitement and the emotion,'' Gran said. ``We had something special with our 13-0 season, and being 1,000-yard rushers wasn't that important to them.''

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