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Williams' failed test not about marijuana

Dolphins running back Ricky Williams failed a test for drug use under the league's substance-abuse policy, but it wasn't for marijuana, the Miami Herald reported. The substance isn't known.

Williams has failed three tests because of marijuana.

His agent, Leigh Steinberg, did not comment specifically on the report.

"Assuming that something like this happened, an appeal would have been filed," he said. "But now that all this information is out, it's impossible to know what might happen.

"I would be blown away if Ricky Williams used drugs. Ricky Williams has been in outstanding behavioral mode for the past six months. No one should jump to any conclusions."

The Associated Press reported Williams has filed an appeal and a ruling isn't expected until April. If it is rejected, Williams faces a one-year suspension. The Dolphins and the league declined comment.

Williams retired and sat out the 2004 season. He owes the Dolphins $8.6-million for breaching his contract, and motivated at least partly by the need for a paycheck, he returned last year to play for new coach Nick Saban. He served a four-game suspension at the start of the season for his third violation of the drug program. Steinberg said Williams has been in India for about two weeks studying yoga and holistic medicine and is scheduled to return in early April.

CULPEPPER TO MIAMI? The Dolphins have talked to the Vikings during the past week about trading for quarterback Daunte Culpepper, the Miami Herald reported. Miami has offered more than the second-round pick the Minneapolis Star recently reported Minnesota is seeking. The Herald also reported the Dolphins are looking at the Titans' Steve McNair and Redskins' Patrick Ramsey.

Brees likely a free agent; Pennington still unknown

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said the team has declined to designate quarterback Drew Brees as its franchise or transition player, which would make him a free agent. Meanwhile, new Jets coach Eric Mangini did not divulge if quarterback Chad Pennington will be released or re-signed at a reduced salary.

If the Chargers had put either tag on Brees, he would be guaranteed nearly $10-million for next season. But they already have Philip Rivers, the No. 4 overall pick in 2004, and Brees tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder during the final regular-season game. His status for training camp isn't known.

The deadline for designating a player with either tag is Thursday.

In New York, the Jets started renegotiating with Pennington last week. The Associated Press reported agent Tom Condon rejected a deal that would have reduced the base salary from $9-million to $1-million. Condon, who didn't return phone messages, is expected to meet with general manger Mike Tannenbaum this week.

Pennington, coming off a second rotator cuff injury to his throwing shoulder, signed a $64-million, seven-year deal two years ago. His salary cap number for this season is expected to be about $12-million. Even if the Jets cut him by the March 3 deadline to get under the cap, they would take a hit of about $10-million.

Mangini also announced hirings: Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator, Bob Sutton as defensive coordinator, former linebacker Bryan Cox as assistant defensive line coach and Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann as linebackers coach.

BEARS: Former Pro Bowl cornerback Gill Byrd was hired as defensive quality control coach. Byrd, on the Rams staff the past three seasons, played 10 seasons and made the Pro Bowl in 1991 and 1992 with the Chargers. He will help coach defensive backs.

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