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DOLPHINS SUSPEND TROUBLED RUNNING BACK AFTER LATEST ARREST

Cecil Collins, the Miami Dolphins running arrested Dec. 16 on burglary charges, was officially suspended without pay by the NFL team Thursday.

Coach Jimmy Johnson said the team has not paid Collins since his arrest. Collins allegedly climbed into a couple's bedroom window at his apartment complex.

The suspension will prevent Collins from receiving the remainder of his 1999 salary and any bonus money he might have collected if the Dolphins make the playoffs.

"Nothing's been determined as far as what actually happened," Johnson said of the charges. "We have determined that he definitely will not play for us this year. If he ever plays for us after that, that's to be determined later on."

Collins was released on bail for the burglary charges and arrested a day later after a Louisiana judge issued a warrant for a probation violation. He has been in jail since, and is awaiting extradition to Louisiana, where he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Collins was charged twice in the summer of 1998 with unauthorized entry at his apartment complex in Baton Rouge. Both cases involved female residents, including a 17-year-old who accused Collins of exposing himself and rubbing against her.

The NFL granted the Dolphins a roster exemption for Collins, giving them an open roster spot. Johnson said he will not do anything with the opening until next week. Collins has been sidelined since breaking a leg Nov. 14 against Buffalo.

In other news involving the Dolphins, tight end Troy Drayton underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair his right knee and won't play in Monday night's game against the New York Jets. Hunter Goodwin, who has four catches for 32 yards this season, is expected to start.

Brown remains in hospital

BEREA, Ohio -- Orlando Brown, the first player in NFL history to be suspended for more than one game for contact with an official, remained hospitalized with an eye injury Thursday.

The huge offensive tackle of the Cleveland Browns could remain at Cleveland Clinic Hospital for the rest of this week, team spokesman Ken Mather said.

Brown was hit by a flag weighted with BBs and thrown by referee Jeff Triplette during Sunday's game against Jacksonville. Brown returned to the field and knocked down Triplette with a two-handed shove to the chest.

On Wednesday, the NFL indefinitely suspended Brown for the remainder of this season and possibly for part of next season.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will meet with the 6-foot-7, 350-pound Brown in New York after the Pro Bowl in February. Additional penalties will be discussed at that hearing.

New venue not sought

DURHAM, N.C. -- Rae Carruth's new lawyers said Thursday the former Carolina Panthers wide receiver won't try to move any upcoming murder trial out of Charlotte despite intense media coverage of the case.

"I have no questions in my mind that the citizens there will wait and hear both sides of the issue, and that there are very good people there," Carruth's lawyer, Ken Spaulding, said.

Carruth and three other men are accused of first-degree murder in the drive-by shooting death of Cherica Adams, Carruth's pregnant girlfriend. Police said Carruth organized the slaying.

Thomas, Thibodeaux put on IR

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Vikings' free safety Orlando Thomas and cornerback Keith Thibodeaux were placed on injured reserve, meaning their seasons are over.

Thomas fractured his right shoulder blade in Minnesota's 24-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Monday night. Thibodeaux has been out for several weeks after separating his right shoulder.

They were replaced on the active roster by two players promoted from the practice squad: defensive back Don Morgan and defensive end Keith Counsil.

Morgan, a 5-11, 200-pound rookie from Nevada-Reno, has been with the team all year. Counsil, a 6-6, 285-pound first-year player from Hampton, was added to the practice squad this month after his release from the New York Giants.

With Thomas out, the Vikings plan to use Anthony Bass at free safety. Also, converted receiver Robert Tate is expected to stay at nickel back in place of rookie Chris Rogers, who has a pulled hamstring.

Hardy should play Sunday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Linebacker Kevin Hardy of the Jacksonville Jaguars is expected to return to the field a week after one of the biggest scares of his career.

Hardy, who sustained a neck injury against the Cleveland Browns, is listed as probable. He's expected to play Sunday against Tennessee wearing a neck brace.

He laid on the ground for nearly 10 minutes after being hit in the helmet by teammate Tony Brackens as the two converged to make a tackle on Marc Edwards.

"I was scared because for the first time I had numbness throughout my whole upper body," Hardy said. "The first thing I thought about was my legs. I kept kicking my feet. A lot of times people do that because they're in pain. I was in pain, but I was also trying to make sure that I had all my limbs, and that I could move them."

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