Continued from page 1

Cornwell disagreed.

Jonathan Martin’s toughness is not at issue,” Cornwell said. “The issue is Jonathan’s treatment by his teammates.”

The Dolphins (4-4) will play for the first time since the scandal broke Monday night at Tampa Bay (0-8). At least 75 reporters and cameramen tracking the case were in the locker room after Thursday’s practice, but receiver Brian Hartline said the scrutiny won’t prevent the team from playing well.

“It almost heightens your awareness,” he said. “You know it’s going to take away from your focus, so it does the exact opposite. You overcompensate to make sure you stay aware of the game.”

Dolphins players have robustly defended Incognito. He’s now a notorious national villain, but teammates praise his leadership and loyalty. They’ve been less passionate in their support of Martin, saying he and Incognito behaved like best friends.

Martin is with his family in California to undergo counseling for emotional issues. A senior partner in a New York law firm was appointed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate possible misconduct and prepare a report.

While Martin has been a starter since the first game of his rookie season, he developed a reputation in the NFL for lacking toughness. That impression might have been reinforced by the way he handled his issues with Incognito, current and former teammates acknowledge.

“A lot of people might look at Jonathan Martin and think that he’s soft because he stepped away from the game, and say, `Why don’t you just fight him?’” said Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, who played with Martin at Stanford. “Well, if you look at it with common sense and being logical, what options did Jonathan Martin have?

“He could fight Richie Incognito. He could go and tell on the players, which we know in the football locker room doesn’t go over too well. Or he could remove himself from the situation and let the proper channels take care of itself. And I think he made the intelligent, smart choice without putting himself or Richie Incognito’s physical abilities in danger.”

___

AP Sports Writers Tim Booth in Seattle and Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, N.J., contributed to this report.

___

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and NFL“>http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

___

Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve_Wine