A Closer Look: The Miami Dolphins

There's nothing more urgent than plugging the Grand Canyon-like hole left by strong safety Yeremiah Bell's season-ending torn Achilles' injury.

The Dolphins brought in veteran Donovin Darius for a workout Tuesday, but he has been battling injury woes the past two seasons and appears to be on the other side of the mountain after getting cut by the Jaguars and Raiders in the last five months.

No one on the Dolphins roster is in the class of Bell, who was coming into his own since being inserted as a starter in Game 9 last season.

What compounds matters is that the high-scoring Dallas Cowboys are coming to town with a red-hot quarterback in Tony Romo, who riddled the Giants secondary -- completing 15 of 24 for 345 yards, including four touchdowns.

Dolphins cornerback Travis Daniels got torched by Antwaan Randle El for five catches for 162 yards on Sunday, so how is he going to handle Terrell Owens, who had a pair of touchdown receptions in Week One?

Dolphins backup safety Travares Tillman knows the system that defensive chief Dom Capers runs, but he was demoted last season because of his inability to play the ball in the air while battling receivers.

Special teams ace Cameron Worrell is another option, but he has never started an NFL game in five seasons.

The secondary wasn't the only problem for the Dolphins on Sunday. Their so-called vaunted run defense -- including Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor -- was manhandled by the Redskins' offensive line -- which included a rookie right tackle (Stephon Heyer) who had never played the position before at any level -- for 191 rushing yards. It didn't matter whether it was Clinton Portis or Ladell Betts carrying the rock.

Perhaps, Cam Cameron's strategy to rest his defensive stalwarts such as Taylor, Zach Thomas and Keith Traylor in the exhibition season didn't prepare them for game conditions. They all seemed gassed as in out of.

So much for the Dolphins' edge in September. Including Sunday's loss, the Dolphins are 3-10 in their early-season games over the past three years.

"Washington did some good things in the game. That's not always a reflection of anything, whether it be conditioning or whatever," Cameron said. "Our linebackers weren't tired. I don't want to get in that position where we're sitting there trying to justify it.

"You lose a couple of guys in the preseason, then they're not even out there. It's a balancing act.

"But if you turn on the tape, the effort was good. The mental effort has got to impdoes the tackling.

MORE NOTES: QB Trent Green lucked out when Redskins CB Fred Smoot dropped an easy interception that would've ended the game in regulation, but overall he made good decisions and was accurate. He'll need to go vertical this week against the Cowboys and not just settle for check downs to the RBs.

--RB Ronnie Brown was basically demoted to a part-time fullback in the season opener as Cameron has fallen in love with comeback kid Jesse Chatman. However, neither runner found any holes, but this looks like a two-headed backfield for now on. Ricky Williams, where are you?

--TE David Martin only confirmed why the Packers dumped him and why he couldn't unseat Bubba Franks all those years in Green Bay. He just isn't a dependable receiver. He dropped two passes, including a critical one that would've kept alive a drive in the fourth quarter of a tight game.

--WR Chris Chambers bounced back from a drop and had a solid game, catching six balls for 92 yards. Chambers and Green seemed in synch together and this bodes well for the future, despite the trade rumors that surrounded Chambers before the season started.

--WR Marty Booker had three catches for 20 yards, but dropped a sure first-down pass. He did gain 12 yards on a reverse, a role he is filling this season instead of Chambers (until rookie Ted Ginn Jr. is ready).

--DE Jason Taylor missed a few plays with a quadriceps injury Sunday, but said he was fine on Monday. However, he didn't look so fine during the overtime session when the Redskins offensive line overpowered him as Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts took turns leaving cleat marks on top of his No. 99 jersey.

--SS Travares Tillman hasn't started since midseason last year after losing his job to Yeremiah Bell. With Bell done for the season, Tillman may reclaim his job Sunday, but he is not nearly as good as Bell is in run support.

--LB Zach Thomas looked good on paper with 13 tackles and a sack Sunday, but he looked his age (34) as he seemed to wear down in the fourth quarter and overtime. He classily took the blame on that huge third-down pass to TE Chris Cooley that got a critical first down and practically put the Redskins into field goal range in OT. Maybe he should've played more than nine snaps in the exhibition season.

--RB Jesse Chatman, who was on the field as much as projected starter Ronnie Brown, was gimping around the locker room Monday on a bruised right knee. He said he'd practice Wednesday, but we'll have to wait and see.

--DT Chase Page spent last season on the Chargers practice squad so he made his first NFL tackles Sunday when he notched two against the Redskins.

--CB Andre' Goodman (shoulder) has been targeting Game 3 against the Jets in two weeks as his target date, but the loss of Yeremiah Bell may accelerate his return, especially if CB Travis Daniels moves to safety.

CowboysHQ Top Stories