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Marino, Barnett Will Return To Practice

October 15, 1996

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) _ Dan Marino and Fred Barnett, who have yet to combine on a completion this season, will return to the practice field Wednesday for the Miami Dolphins.

Marino plans to practice for the first time since breaking his right ankle Sept. 23. Barnett, sidelined all season with a knee injury, has also received medical clearance to join workouts.

It’s uncertain whether either will play Sunday at Philadelphia.

``We’ll be extremely cautious with Dan as well as Fred,″ coach Jimmy Johnson said Monday. ``They may say, `OK, we’re ready to go, we want to play.′ That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll say yes.

``Right now I’d expect that if Fred plays at all, it will be in a very, very limited role. And I do not anticipate Marino playing.″

Marino’s replacement, Craig Erickson, threw for 192 yards and committed no turnovers Sunday as the Dolphins (4-2) beat Buffalo 21-7. The victory snapped an eight-game losing streak when Marino doesn’t start, dating back to 1993.

``More than anything, the win allowed us to get over the hurdle of winning games without Dan Marino in the lineup,″ Johnson said.

The initial timetable was for Marino to miss 3-5 games. He has missed two games since breaking his ankle at Indianapolis.

``I feel that it’s improving, but it’s not well enough to be in a game situation today,″ he said Monday. ``However, it’s a day-by-day process, and I’ll see how I feel as the week progresses and how the practices go.″

Barnett, who has no soreness or swelling in his knee, has amazed doctors with his speedy recovery from surgery this summer.

``The doctors said this: Never before has anybody seen a nine-week recovery off that type of injury,″ Johnson said. ``It’s almost unheard of.″

There were fears that Barnett’s career might be over when the 30-year-old receiver tore cartilage and the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Using a cadaver’s tendon as a replacement, doctors needed two operations to repair the damage.

``I told them if I’m just able to chase my wife around the house, that would be all right,″ Barnett said with a smile. ``I’m just thankful I’m able to run as fast as before.″

Barnett is eager to start earning the five-year, $8.5 million contract he signed as a free agent in March after six seasons with the Eagles. Will he play Sunday against his former team?

``Right now I say yes,″ he said. ``I’ll get some plays in this week to let me know whether I can really do it.″

Marino might suit up Sunday as the emergency quarterback, meaning he would play only if Erickson and Bernie Kosar got hurt. Marino will likely return as the starter for the much-anticipated game pitting Johnson against his former team when the Dallas Cowboys visit Miami on Oct. 27.

That has been the target date for Marino since shortly after he broke his ankle.

``We’ll put him into practice and let him throw a little bit,″ Johnson said. ``As he feels comfortable, we might accelerate it a little bit. But unless something changes and we see some kind of work that we don’t expect, I wouldn’t expect Dan to play this week.″

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