HEUPEL'S future fading with Dolphins

Tuesday, August 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) _ Josh Heupel is throwing again, but the rookie quarterback might be too far behind to make the Miami Dolphins roster.

Heupel, a sixth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma, sprained his left wrist Aug. 6 against the St. Louis Rams in the Hall of Fame game. He has missed the last two weeks and two preseason games, severely limiting his chances of making the team as the No. 3 quarterback.

``Obviously it's disappointing for me,'' Heupel said Monday. ``It comes at a bad time. Training camp is the most important time, especially for a rookie. But it's out of my control, so I'm just trying to get better, get healthy and get back on the field and compete.

``You have no control over some of those outside factors, so you just try to get better each and every day.''

Heupel was 4-for-8 passing for 62 yards against the Rams before the injury. He missed chances to play against Tampa Bay and San Diego.

The Dolphins play Green Bay on Saturday, but starter Jay Fiedler is scheduled to play into the third quarter and backups Ray Lucas and Mike Quinn are expected to split the remainder of playing time.

Coach Dave Wannstedt said Heupel would not play.

``As soon as he gets healthy, we'll try to get him out there and get him back in some drills,'' Wannstedt said. ``It's a situation of you never know what's going to happen tomorrow.''

Miami's preseason finale is Aug. 31 against Minnesota. Rosters will be trimmed to 65 three days before then, so Heupel would have to make the first cut to have another shot at making the team.

``Whatever happens, happens,'' said Heupel, the 177th overall pick in April's draft.

Heupel set school records for career completions (590), attempts (933) and touchdown passes (50). As a senior, he finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, was a first-team All-American and an All-Big-12 Conference selection.

He completed 25 of 39 passes for 214 yards and led the Sooners to the national championship with a victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

Three months later, Heupel was the 11th quarterback taken in the NFL draft. The main reason was because of his questionable arm strength. Heupel worked with a quarterbacks coach during the offseason and altered his throwing motion from sidearm to more overhand.

The Dolphins expected the 6-foot-1 left-hander to battle Quinn for the third-string job, but there has been little competition this preseason _ mostly because of Heupel's injury.

``I'm starting to get better, and hopefully I'll be back on the field pretty soon,'' Heupel said. ``We're just taking it day-by-day right now. We'll go out and test it a little bit and see how it reacts.''