DAVIE, Fla. (AP) – Miami Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau is out for the season with a calf injury, but said he plans to return for a 17th season in 2006, even if it’s with another team.

The loss of Seau further depletes a linebacking corps already missing Zach Thomas, who is expected to be sidelined two games with a shoulder injury. The Dolphins (3-7) play Sunday at Oakland.

Seau played the past three games knowing there was a chance he could rupture his Achilles’ tendon because of the calf injury, which began bothering him in September. The decision to put him on injured reserve was made after he underwent an MRI exam.

“I played on one leg for seven weeks,” Seau said. “Knowing I could have two legs next year, it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.”

Whether Seau will return to the Dolphins is uncertain. A 12-time Pro Bowl selection with the San Diego Chargers, Seau turns 37 in January and is under contract to earn $2.1 million in bonuses and base salary.

Seau also finished the 2004 season on injured reserve because of a torn pectoral muscle.

The Dolphins will have different starters at all three linebacker spots Sunday. Derrick Pope will make his first start of the season at weakside linebacker in place of rookie Channing Crowder, who will shift to middle linebacker. Donnie Spragan, who replaced Seau for three games earlier this season, will start at strongside linebacker.

“This is an opportunity for each and every one of those guys to show what they can do,” coach Nick Saban said.

AP-ES-11-24-05 0953EST

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