Alain Poupart: The departures of Thomas and Taylor maybe weren't as dramatic as they would have been otherwise if it weren't for the fact the team has been so bad in recent years. The fans don't care who's there or not, they just want to see the team win. Besides, there's a high level of trust in the new regime, so that also decreased the uproar over those two guys being let go. As far as leadership, the Dolphins still have several veterans on defense to lead, including Jason Ferguson, Joey Porter and Vonnie Holliday.
QB Philip Rivers
AP: The thing about the Dolphins' pass defense is they've given up three passes of 55 yards or more (one against the Jets, two against Arizona) and that's skewed their defensive numbers. They benched free agent pickup Chris Crocker after the second game and there were no breakdowns against New England (then again, it was Matt Cassel at quarterback, not Brett Favre or Kurt Warner). The Dolphins still have to make sure they get pressure on Rivers, but regardless, the Dolphins' pass defense isn't as bad as the rankings might suggest.
ML: Reggie Torbor was drafted one pick ahead of Shaun Phillips. Does he have a chance to develop into a central piece of Miami 's pass rush?
AP: No. Torbor never was a pass-rushing specialist with the Giants and that's not why the Dolphins signed him. He's a solid all-around linebacker and special teams contributor. Right now, he's not even starting at linebacker, so he's not the central piece to anything. He is, however, one of the pieces on defense, a guy who provides solid depth.
DB Jason Allen
AP: While I hold the right to change my mind down the line, for now he's clearly a bust. Now in his third season, he started at free safety for most of the preseason before being replaced by Chris Crocker, who now has been replaced by Renaldo Hill. Allen, meanwhile, is getting work at both safety and cornerback, which tells you something. The bottom line with Allen is the coaches don't trust him in the back end of the defense because he makes too many mental mistakes.
ML: The Chargers have given up big kick returns each of the last two weeks. Do you see Ted Ginn being a difference-maker in this game?
AP: The first thing would be for Ginn to actually be the one returning kicks for the Dolphins. So far this season the team has used Davone Bess, a rookie free agent from Hawaii, in that role while Ginn continues to be a non-factor. It's very sobering considering this guy was the ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft. Coach Tony Sparano isn't one to tip his hand, so we won't know for sure whether Ginn will be back returning kicks against the Chargers, but there's certainly no guarantee.