NFL NOTEBOOK: Dolphins place leading rusher on injured reserve

MIAMI — Ronnie Brown’s season has ended with an injury — again.

The Miami Dolphins’ leading rusher was placed on injured reserve Wednesday because of a right foot injury suffered in Sunday’s victory over Tampa Bay.

A fifth-year pro, Brown missed the final nine games of the 2007 season with a right knee injury.

The Dolphins had hoped Brown might be able to return this year but made the roster move after he was examined by a specialist. It’s a big blow for a team that ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing and 30th in passing.

The move was announced shortly after the Dolphins (4-5) departed for today’s game against Carolina. Ricky Williams, the 2002 NFL rushing champion, will replace Brown in the starting lineup.

Brown was on pace for the best year of his career with 648 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, and he threw for another. He was the triggerman in the wildcat, and it’s uncertain how much the Dolphins will use the package with Williams taking snaps.

Williams has rushed for 558 yards. He’s coming off his first 100-yard game of the season and is averaging a career-best 5.3 yards per carry, but he’s 32, and it’s uncertain whether he can handle a workhorse role.

For Brown, the setback could be costly, because he’s in the final year of his rookie contract. Depending on when a collective bargaining agreement is reached, he could become a free agent after this season, and a second major injury in three seasons is sure to hurt his market value.

Polamalu wearing heavy brace

PITTSBURGH — Steelers safety Troy Polamalu wore a heavy brace on his reinjured left knee while watching practice Wednesday and did not take part in any drills. Polamalu limped off the field about 30 minutes before practice ended and did not answer questions. He is all but certain to miss Sunday’s game at Kansas City, and he might not be ready for Baltimore on Nov. 29. Polamalu injured a knee ligament while tackling Cincinnati’s Cedric Benson on Sunday.

Winfield likes his chances

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield has given himself an “85 percent” chance of returning to play this week. Winfield hurt his right foot on Oct. 18 against Baltimore and sat out the last three games. He participated in much of Wednesday’s practice, saying afterward if he’s not ready for Sunday’s game against Seattle he’s “100 percent” sure he’ll play the following week against Chicago.

Bell out indefinitely

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Bills starting left tackle Demetrius Bell is out indefinitely with a right knee injury. Bills interim head coach Perry Fewell on Wednesday listed Bell as week to week, which is an upgrade after the team previously feared the player’s injury might be season-ending. Fewell said Bell will not require surgery.

Ravens sign kicker

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The only thing that could make the Ravens feel any worse about their kicking situation would be Matt Stover booting the game-winning field goal for the Indianapolis Colts in Baltimore on Sunday. Still searching for the right successor to Stover, the Ravens signed former Dallas Cowboys kicker Billy Cundiff on Wednesday. Cundiff replaces Steve Hauschka, who was cut Tuesday after missing several important field goal tries — including a potential game-winner in Minnesota last month. Broncos turn to backup QB

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Kyle Orton isn’t practicing as the Denver Broncos install their game plan for the San Diego Chargers. Backup Chris Simms took the snaps at practice Wednesday because of Orton’s bum ankle. Orton is holding out hope he’ll start Sunday. was knocked out of the Broncos’ 27-17 loss at Washington last weekend with a sprained left ankle.

Quinn fined for block

BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn has been fined by the NFL for his low hit on Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs. After throwing an interception in Monday night’s 16-0 loss to the Ravens, Quinn dived at Suggs’ knees while trying to bring down cornerback Chris Carr, who had picked him off. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis accused Quinn of a cheap shot. Suggs will miss Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. Suggs has a sprained ligament in his right knee, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. The three-time Pro Bowler will miss his first NFL game in seven years — ending his streak at 105 and could be out up to three weeks.

Raiders extend lease

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders have reached a tentative agreement with Alameda County to extend their lease at the Coliseum through the 2013 season. The Raiders’ lease was set to expire after next season. The deal still must be formally approved by the Coliseum Authority, Alameda County, the city of Oakland and the NFL. That is expected to come by the end of the year.

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