NEW ORLEANS -- Ronnie Brown returned from a thumb injury in good enough form to make a case for sharing carries with Ricky Williams this season.
Brown rushed 12 times for 47 yards and powered his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run to help the Miami Dolphins win their third consecutive preseason contest, 14-10 over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
"That's really what I needed to see because I haven't seen that," Miami head coach Tony Sparano said. "I've only seen a couple of carries and when you're only getting a couple of carries, it's hard to have that kind of swagger. ... As he got going, he felt pretty good and it was nice to see him score."
Former Michigan quarterback Chad Henne also solidified his backup role behind starter Chad Pennington, completing 16 of 20 passes for 137 yards and an 8-yard touchdown to former Jets tight end Sean Ryan.
Saints fans hoping to finally see tight end Jeremy Shockey's debut for New Orleans were disappointed as coach Sean Payton made the former Giants star a late scratch for the second week in a row.
Trying to work his way back from a broken left leg last December, Shockey will enter the regular season next week without having played a snap for his new team.
"That's a hard one because I'm really wanting to see him get the live snaps, but there's still that clock in his head and in our head that says, 'You know what? It's still not 100 percent,'" Payton said. "I think he's real close. We'll have him ready this week to play and that's the plan."
The Saints also sat out a number of other regulars, including Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and Marques Colston.
Deuce McAllister, however, got his most work of the preseason, rushing 11 times for 30 yards and catching two passes for 2 yards. Coming back from his second knee reconstruction in three seasons, McAllister appeared to be victimized by poor blocking on several short losses.
Still, the Saints' career-leading rusher looked strong on a 9-yard run and on a swing pass in which he faked Andre Goodman to the turf in the backfield before surging ahead for a 7-yard gain to set up a score.
"The old man's still got it a little bit," said McAllister, who's 29. "I've still got a couple tricks up my sleeve. ... It's just making plays, taking what the defense gives me and if that's something that I have to do, I have the ability to do it."
Cornerback Mike McKenzie, making his second start in a row after an offseason of rehabilitation from a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, looked strong. He stopped a running play for no gain, did not allow a completion and nearly intercepted a pass along the sideline.
The Dolphins' Williams, who has played in all four Miami preseason games, carried the ball only twice for 2 yards as Sparano sought to give more work to Brown, who'd played sparingly in the first two games of the preseason as he comes back from a right anterior cruciate ligament tear in the middle of last season.
Against the Saints, his best run went for 15 yards on a draw.
"I feel pretty good," Brown said. "I think I was pressing a little bit, just trying to create something early in the preseason, just coming off the injury. Today, I felt more relaxed."
Pennington started the game for the Dolphins but played only two series, completing two of his four passes for 27 yards.
Mark Brunell, who started for New Orleans, was 6-of-9 for 31 yards and a 2-yard TD toss to Lance Moore, which put New Orleans ahead 10-0 early in the second quarter.
Saints third-string quarterback Tyler Palko played the rest of the way, but struggled mightily and went 4-of-14 for 36 yards. The Saints finished with only 99 total yards, which did little to enliven a sparse crowd that seemed more eager to go home and prepare for a possible storm evacuation than watch a game featuring very few regulars after the first quarter.
Jason David, a former starting cornerback relegated to the role of backup and special teams, had an interception and made three tackles on kick coverage, stripping Dolphins punt returner Davone Bess on one, though the ball went out of bounds and Miami kept possession.
The Louisiana Superdome crowd, which booed David for yielding a touchdown and three first-down passes in the Saints' last preseason home game, roared with approval after the interception of Henne in the third quarter as David pointed to the heavens, having likely avoided being left off the 53-player regular-season roster.
"Before the resurrection, there was a crucifixion," David said. "Just to make plays and finally get the crowd reaction on your side felt good."
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said during the game that the Saints would go to Indianapolis to train next week if Tropical Storm Gustav became a certain threat to the New Orleans area. Payton said the team would be dismissed early Friday to take care of family and then, if an evacuation was deemed necessary, meet in Indianapolis on Sunday night. "What we need basically is a good hotel and an indoor facility where we can practice for the course of a week and we'll be just fine," Payton said.
|Thurs. Aug. 28||Final|
|MIA - Pass: C. Henne (16-20, 137), Rush: R. Brown (12-47)|
NO - Pass: T. Palko (4-14, 36), Rush: D. McAllister (11-30)
|FG||Martin Gramatica 40 Yd, 2:37. Drive: 9 plays, 39 yards in 3:51.|
|TD||Lance Moore, 2 Yd pass from Mark Brunell (Taylor Mehlhaff kick is good), 13:23. Drive: 7 plays, 19 yards in 3:19.|
|TD||Ronnie Brown, 1 Yd run (Dan Carpenter kick is good), 4:09. Drive: 10 plays, 75 yards in 5:36.|
|TD||Sean Ryan, 8 Yd pass from Chad Henne (Dan Carpenter kick is good), 0:44. Drive: 8 plays, 61 yards in 1:41.|
Nike Ryan Tannehill Dolphins 2012 Draft Game Jersey - Aqua Shop Now!
|Complete Player Stats|