KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS, Don Criqui, Steve Beuerlein
SERIES: 14th meeting. Dolphins hold a 9-4 series lead. The Dolphins defeated the Browns, 9-7, in the second-to-last game of the 2004 season on a 51-yard Olindo Mare field goal with seven seconds remaining. Although both franchises with 4-12 records, Miami was given the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 draft ahead of Cleveland because the Dolphins played a weaker schedule.
2005 RANKINGS: Dolphins: offense 18th (16th rush, 17th pass); defense 18th (18th rush, 14th pass). Browns: offense 24th (22nd rush, 18th pass); defense 27th (28th rush, 19th pass)
PREDICTION: Dolphins 19-10
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Browns shouldn't be surprised if the Dolphins utilize more 3-4 looks on defense after Cleveland struggled to protect QB Trent Dilfer against Pittsburgh last Sunday. LB/DE Jason Taylor is a major concern, and LT L.J. Shelton could require extra blocking help. But the best defense against a strong pass rush is to get a big game from RB Reuben Droughns. In what figures to be a low-scoring game where field position will be key, both running games with play a major factor. Dolphins rookie RB Ronnie Brown has averaged 5.5 yards per carry over the past seven games. With or without QB Gus Frerotte, the Dolphins know the Browns will likely load up to stop the run and dare Miami to throw downfield. When the Dolphins do move the ball, finishing drives against a defense that has allowed just 12 touchdowns in 28 opponents' red-zone possessions could prove difficult.
FAST FACTS: Dolphins: Brown needs 37 rushing yards to surpass Andra Franklin (711) for the second-highest rookie rushing total in franchise history. ... MLB Zach Thomas has logged double-digit tackles in 24 of his past 26 games. Browns: Dilfer has a six-game home winning streak in November and has won 11 of his past 14 November starts (.786). ... Play host to Miami for the first time in 13 years.
- QB Gus Frerotte (finger) didn't participate in team drills Thursday and
remains listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Cleveland. Frerotte,
who was injured when hitting his hand on LB Monty Beisel's helmet in last
Sunday's 23-16 loss to New England, also missed Wednesday's session.
- QB Sage Rosenfels took snaps with Miami's first-team offense for the second
consecutive practice Thursday with injured starter Gus Frerotte on the sideline.
Rosenfels will make his second career start Sunday against Cleveland if Frerotte
- WR Marty Booker would serve as Miami's emergency quarterback Sunday against
Cleveland if Gus Frerotte can't play. A high school quarterback in Louisiana,
Booker has thrown nine career passes and actually played under center in
emergency duty in 2002 for Chicago.
- DB Billy Parker was signed to the developmental squad Wednesday. A former
Arena League standout, Parker was released by Miami during the preseason.
- WR Fred Gibson was released from the developmental squad Wednesday. Gibson was a 2005 fourth-round draft pick by Pittsburgh who had spent all season on Miami's developmental squad after being waived by the Steelers during the preseason.
- G Joe Andruzzi has missed practice all week with knee and calf injuries. He
seems to be on the doubtful side of doubtful.
- RB Lee Suggs was ready to play last week. He said he was recovered from his
broken thumb, but the team made him inactive. This week he's not on the injury
report, but it appears the Browns still will rely on Reuben Droughns.
- G Cosey Coleman might be able to return from the sprained MCL that sidelined
him a week ago. Coleman is listed as questionable, and his availability truly
seems like a 50-50 proposition. The absence of both starting guards would not
seem to be good for the Browns' running game.
- CB Daylon McCutcheon is feeling much better as the week goes on. McCutcheon
was kneed in the gut against Pittsburgh, and he could not breathe immediately
after the injury. MRIs showed no serious internal injuries, so McCutcheon will
decide himself if he will play against Miami.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Gus Frerotte missed his second consecutive day of practice Thursday because of a sprained right index finger, but the quarterback was able to do more individually than the previous day.
"Gus is making good improvement," said Dolphins coach Nick Saban, whose team plays Sunday at Cleveland. "He is able to grip the ball and toss it some. He will take a few snaps (Friday) and see where he is at. ... He did some things (Thursday), but nothing of significance."
It appears Saban would lean toward giving backup Sage Rosenfels his second NFL start if Frerotte is not able to practice Friday. Frerotte, though, has said he can play if healthy by Sunday morning, even if he doesn't get any work during the week.
"Guys who have more experience and have been doing something probably can go out and perform with less reps than younger, more inexperienced guys," Saban said. "I would like to see (Frerotte) get some reps at some point in time to put him in that position, but that is something I always discuss with the players. I would feel more comfortable if he were able to practice some, at least (Friday)."
Without Frerotte, Cleo Lemon would serve as the second-string quarterback. Lemon was acquired last month in a trade with San Diego for quarterback A.J. Feeley and a 2006 sixth-round draft choice.
"He has made a lot of progress," Saban said of Lemon. "A lot of it is learning the offense and feeling comfortable with it. He seems to be a pretty good decision-maker and he seems pretty comfortable. Does he have a 100 percent feel of what he needs to do relative to all the issues that go into it? He could probably use a little more time to develop there ... but I also feel confident that if he plays, he can do the job for us."
There's a fair chance the Browns might see Sage Rosenfels at quarterback when they play the Dolphins on Sunday.
How much do the Browns know about Rosenfels?
"Not much," linebacker Andra Davis said. "I know he's the Dolphins backup quarterback, but besides that, nothing."
How do they prepare, then?
"In this league you don't have to know," Davis said. "You don't really prepare for the person, you prepare for the scheme and what they like to do. Everybody in this league is pretty good.
"A quarterback is a quarterback, unless he's a Peyton Manning or somebody of that caliber."
Coach Romeo Crennel said he hopes Gus Frerotte plays.
"Every time we talk about the backup coming in, he comes in and does better than we all anticipate," Crennel said.