Game Preview: Denver at Miami

Most of the focus nationally will be on Denver quarterback Tim Tebow when the Broncos face the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium, but this game represents a great opportunity for Miami to finally get into the column. We break down this matchup of struggling teams.

WHO: Denver Broncos (1-4) at Miami Dolphins (0-5)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

SITE: Sun Life Stadium

SURFACE: Natural grass

TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots


KEYS TO THE GAME: The Dolphins are minus-seven in turnover margin and don't have the firepower to overcome turnovers, even against the Broncos. Denver turns to QB Tim Tebow after its bye week. The offense will stick with what has worked -- RB Willis McGahee, who has three 100-yard games in four starts. Tebow isn't a strong downfield passer but his mobility presents problems for a poor tackling team and the Broncos' young, pesky receiving corps has put in a lot of time with Tebow. Matt Moore's decent weapons let him down Monday against the Jets and his aggressiveness can work against him facing a strong pass rush and veteran secondary. Leading rookie rusher Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush can be a formidable pair only if the Dolphins (24.2 percent third-down percentage) sustain drives.

FAST FACTS: The Broncos have never won in Miami (0-7) and are 1-8 in the last nine meetings overall. ... The Dolphins have only one touchdown in the last 11 quarters.



There are several factors currently in short supply that contributed to Denver's 1-4 start.

One of them is Elvis Dumervil terrorizing opposing quarterbacks, as he did when he led the NFL in sacks in 2009.

Blame a shoulder injury suffered before Week 1. Dumervil has been in a state of recovery ever since, gutting through one game, missing two and trying to compensate in two others before last week's bye.

Dumervil this week called the off week 'huge' in his recovery. He added it's the best he's felt all year as he prepared to face Dolphins left tackle Jake Long, who's made the Pro Bowl for three years running.

"Playing with an injury and not really in game shape, your body feels the wear and tear but having that bye week after that situation really helps. I feel fresh now and it allowed me to get that confidence back in the shoulder," Dumervil said.

One byproduct of Dumervil's injury was that it prevented him from hitting the weights. That lack of activity played with his mind as much as it did his body.

"The weight room is about gaining confidence ... And I'm a power-rusher, too, and without that confidence, you're not the same guy. To be able to now lift weights helps with that whole confidence thing," he said.

Dumervil -- coming off a club-record 17 sacks two seasons ago -- missed all of 2010 with a torn pectoral muscle, which was surgically repaired.

In his most prolonged preseason action this summer, he had four tackles in a half and 1.5 sacks in his final appearance Aug. 27 and looked headed for a strong rebound in the regular season. At worst, he would draw blocking attention that helped free Miller on the opposite side.

That was before Dumervil's practice injury leading up to the Raiders opener.

"I look at him every day and there's a storm brewing in there," said the rookie SLB Miller, whose five sacks lead the team. "When he gets that sack, they're just going to come in, rolling. That's my opinion. That's how I feel.

"Elvis is not the type of guy where, 'Oh, I didn't get a sack this game, it's all good.' All the sacks he didn't get, he's going to get them. It's just a matter of time."



-- C J.D. Walton and QB Tim Tebow had three bobbled exchanges in Tebow's second-half appearance Oct. 9. Tebow since his college days has been more comfortable in the shotgun but spent his offseason trying to refine his mechanics behind center. Coach John Fox believes the extra practice snaps Tebow's taken both with the first team and off to the side with Walton will help smooth out any lingering issues.

-- CB Champ Bailey figures he's gone at least 1,000 practice snaps against Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall and said that some of the finer points of route running he taught Marshall may be used against him Sunday. Figure Bailey to see a lot of Marshall on Sunday if not shadowing him around the field.


-- RB Reggie Bush practiced in full after sitting out on Wednesday with a groin injury. He said he expects to play on Sunday.

-- WR Brandon Marshall also practiced in full after sitting out on Wednesday. He had been suffering from a quad injury but it appears he'll be good to go on Sunday.

-- FS Reshad Jones sat out practice with a knee injury. The starter at free safety all season, Jones' availability for Sunday is in doubt.

-- LB Cam Wake was limited in practice on Thursday with a minor hamstring issue. He's expected to be fine for the game on Sunday.

-- FS Chris Clemons was also limited with a hamstring injury, but he did work. He aggravated his hamstring injury last week and missed the Monday night game against the Jets.

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