Lawrence Timmons is sorry. And Lawrence Timmons is happy to be back with the team.
Those were the only two pieces of information one could possibly take away from Timmons’ Wednesday news conference, speaking with reporters for the first time since going AWOL from the Dolphins back on Sept. 16.
The Dolphins reinstated Timmons from his indefinite suspension Tuesday, and a day later, he was back on the field with his teammates, whom he knows he let down.
“I just want to say sorry to all the fans, the Miami Dolphins, to everyone,” Timmons said at the start. “Happy to be back here. Sorry to the organization. I’m just happy to be a Miami Dolphin. I just want to play football and be the best I can.”
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After that, any attempt to dig out information on why he disappeared from the team — and even if it would happen again — was akin removing bedrock with a spork.
Most every answer was a variation of what he already said — that Timmons is “just happy to be a Miami Dolphin and play football and be here.” (Timmons said the word happy 19 times in just over two minutes.)
So perhaps we’ll never know what compelled Timmons to vanish from the Dolphins’ Los Angeles hotel before bed check, travel to the airport and wait for a flight to Pittsburgh, the town where he spent the first 10 years of his NFL career.
“I don’t want to be a distraction,” Timmons said.
If he plays hard and plays well, he won’t.
That’s the message from every Dolphins player or coach asked about Timmons on Sunday. Timmons realizes he made a mistake; he and his coach, Adam Gase, are in a good place.
“I’m glad he’s is back,” Gase said, adding: “LT handled the business that he needed to handle.”
What exactly was that? The Dolphins aren’t saying.
But in the weeks since the incident, more alarming details have emerged. CBSSports.com reported that during the Dolphins’ Week 1 bye, Timmons attended a Steelers practice and told his former teammates that he wished he had never left Pittsburgh for Miami.
Reporters pressed Timmons on that issue Wednesday, but he declined to comment. He had not yet addressed the team as a whole on his behavior as of mid-afternoon Wednesday. And yet, teammates were open to forgiveness.
“He's well-liked in the locker room, so guys are happy to see him back,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “He’s just got to come back and do his job. It’s not hard. I think Adam said it a couple of weeks ago, there’s not a lot of rules here. Play hard, and be on time. He knows that. He’s going to come in and do everything he has to do.”
Said running back Jay Ajayi: “When he’s here, he’s here. He’s our teammate.”
Added Ndamukong Suh: “No apology needed.”
And if Timmons has another freakout and disappears again?
“It's going to be dealt with,” Cutler said. “I don’t think it's anything we have to worry about or concern ourselves with. He’s back. We’re happy to have him back. He’s expected to fall in line like everybody else.”
While Timmons said little to reporters Wednesday, he did have an important talk with his coach. And whatever he said was enough to win back Gase’s trust.
Gase also said that the decision to bring Timmons back from suspension after just one week had nothing to do with the team’s disappointing loss to the Jets in Week 3. Timmons is expected to play Sunday against the Saints.
▪ Ajayi (knee) and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Seven Dolphins were limited in their participation: linebacker Chase Allen (neck), linebacker Kiko Alonso (shoulder), long snapper John Denney (hamstring), wide receiver Jakeem Grant (ankle), linebacker Rey Maualuga (hamstring), tackle Eric Smith (knee) and wide receiver Kenny Stills (hand).