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Collateral damage in MIA

Miami's big nose tackle, Jason Ferguson, is the latest example of the unfortunate but necessary collateral damage that comes with the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy. Ferguson was suspended for eight games to start the 2010 season for violating the policy. That means he will not be on the field for the season-opener against the Bills, which is not a bad thing for Buffalo. Ferguson said this week during Miami's minicamp that the took blood-pressure medication with a diuretic to make weight and avoid a fine during the season. The diuretic is on the banned list of the NFL becuase diuretics can be used to mask the use of steroids. That's the way it goes. A similar thing happened with Pat Williams and Kevin Williams of the Vikings. Anybody who knew Pat Williams in Buffalo realized his body shape never changed during his tenure. He's naturally massive (and at times rotund). Players get weighed every Thursday during the season, and Williams did not want to get fined. (It doesn't matter how much guys make, they still like to avoid fines.) So Williams is not a steroid guy. But he used a diuretic and he's been in a legal-process for more than a year to avoid a four-game suspension. That's the way it goes. They should know what's on the list, and it's their job to avoid the banned drugs. The Dolphins are counting on a position switch to make up for Ferguson's absence, and it seems like a pretty reasonable plan. Former Titan Randy Starks, who was a good 3-4 end in starting 16 games for Miami last year, will switch to nose tackle. That's why Miami didn't bother to draft a NT in April. Starks (305) is not massive in the Vince Wilfork mold, but he has talent. Paul Soliai, a three-year veteran who has been only OK so far, is the prospective backup to Starks.

---Mark Gaughan

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