He's on the billboards. He's in the TV commercials and the newspaper ads. But will Ricky Williams actually be on the field for the New Orleans Saints' regular season opener?
Coach Mike Ditka says he's counting on it. Williams says he doesn't know.
Williams will miss Saturday's preseason game against Green Bay with a high left ankle sprain suffered Aug. 13 against Miami. Although the injury probably will keep him out of the last preseason game as well, Ditka said he expects Williams to be ready for the opener Sept. 12 against Carolina.
"Yes, absolutely. There is no question in my mind," Ditka said. "There's no question in my mind that he'll be there."
Williams, who took off the protective boot he was wearing and donned shoulder pads and helmet for a 15-minute session on the stair-stepper Wednesday, had the boot back on and the pads off again yesterday when he spent 15 minutes riding a stationary bike.
"I don't think you can tell someone how long they're going to be out, really," he said. "You can give an estimate, but most doctors' estimates are on the safe side, so to speak. I've been given a lot of estimates, anywhere from two to six weeks. I feel great right now."
DOLPHINS: Wide receiver Tony Martin, acquitted on all charges of money laundering, walked away from a federal courthouse vowing to clean up his life.
"I'm going to be more strict on myself and trust my family more," the Pro Bowl player said as dozens of friends and family members clustered behind him.
Jurors deliberated almost 17 hours over three days before finding Martin not guilty on four counts of laundering drug money on behalf of longtime friend Rickey Brownlee and one count of conspiracy to hide drug proceeds.
Martin, 33, could have faced three to five years in prison if convicted, effectively ending his NFL career.
"It was all or nothing, and my whole career was flashing before me as I sat there," Martin said. "This is a lot of weight off my shoulders."
Meantime, running back James Johnson, the Dolphins' top draft pick, likely will miss Saturday's preseason game against Detroit after aggravating a hamstring injury.
LIONS: In another blow to Detroit's injury-riddled offensive line, tackle Aaron Gibson needs surgery on his injured left shoulder and will be out for the season.
James Andrews, an Alabama-based orthopedist, evaluated Gibson Wednesday after the Lions put the 6-foot-4, 380-pound rookie through two weeks of rehabilitation.
"He's going to have surgery," Coach Bobby Ross said. "He's done."
It's believed that Gibson injured the shoulder prior to being drafted out of Wisconsin in April.