Game Preview: Philadelphia at Miami

The Dolphins will look to continue their great run Sunday afternoon when they take on one of the most disappointing teams in the league this season, the Philadelphia Eagles. Here's a breakdown of the matchup.

WHO: Philadelphia Eagles (4-8) at Miami Dolphins (4-8)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

SITE: Sun Life Stadium

SURFACE: Natural grass

TV: FOX, Chris Myers, Tim Ryan, Jaime Maggio


KEYS TO THE GAME: The Eagles will have QB Michael Vick back, but they must improve on their league-high 29 giveaways and 21st-ranked red zone offense against a Miami defense that is playing strong man coverage on the outside while allowing just 3.2 yards per carry its past six games. The improvement of the Dolphins' offense has coincided with the coaching staff figuring out how best to use RB Reggie Bush. If he can be effective early, it sets the table for QB Matt Moore to attack the Eagles' safeties, who have struggled with assignment breakdowns.

FAST FACTS: Eagles RB LeSean McCoy leads the NFC in rushing despite getting more than 18 carries in just four games. ... Miami has averaged 29.7 points in winning its past three home games.



Quarterback Michael Vick is expected to return to the lineup Sunday after missing three games with fractured ribs.

Vick has said he knows he needs to be a little more careful when he runs with the ball. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said this week that he has drummed that in to him, though he isn't overly confident that Vick is going to change the way he plays.

"We've discussed that since day one, so we'll see," Mornhinweg said.

We'll see?

"Well, I want him to get down underneath hits," he said. "I want him to get up and out on the sideline. (Quarterbacks coach) Doug (Pederson) has drilled that into him time and time again. I want to see that. Now, when the juices get flowing - if it's a game-winner or something like that or a critical point in the game or something like that, or if he thinks he can shake-and-bake and score without getting a hit on him, OK? So we'll see what happens with him in a game. There needs to be a little bit of maturity and I certainly think he's maturing here."

Vick said earlier this week that he intends to slide, even though in the past, he has said he doesn't know how to slide.

"The actual slide is easy," Mornhinweg said. "The actual sliding part is easy. It's the mentality of sliding that's the problem. But the slide part is easy."


Maybe it was the level of the competition the Miami Dolphins were facing.

Maybe it was the talent of the offensive linemen being used. Or maybe the unit needed more time to gain some chemistry.

Whatever the reason for the unit's recent resurgence, which was personified in last Sunday's dominant performance against Oakland - where the Dolphins rushed for 209 yards, scored two touchdowns on the ground, and held a talented pass-rushing team to one sack - its apparent the offensive line has gotten their act together.

"It's a week-to-week thing," said left guard Richie Incognito, who is playing the best of everyone on the unit. "We're just looking to improve and correct the mistakes we make each week."

That seems to be the case, especially from a pass blocking standpoint.

The Dolphins allowed 27 of the season's 35 sacks in the first seven games. But in the last five contests the unit has only allowed eight sacks. And that includes games that featured backup Nate Garner and John Jerry starting, which both have done once a piece the past month.

"They're playing a little bit better together," said Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, who worked his way up the NFL coaching ranks as an offensive line coach. "You can play pretty ball or you can play ugly ball sometimes upfront. Sometimes ugly ball is kind of effective and I think that right now they're just playing really hard and physical at this time. Kind of starting to learn to get each other's back in there."

The Dolphins are averaging 4.0 yards per carry, and have scored 10 rushing touchdowns. But that aspect of the offense has been hot and cold all season.

"We've been getting better the last few weeks running the ball and we just got to keep improving on it," left tackle Jake Long said. "If we stay on our blocks and give those guys holes, Reggie (Bush) and Daniel (Thomas) will find them. We've got to block the blitzes and let them get to the next level."

The Dolphins have passed the ball five times more than they have rushed it this season, which indicates Sparano's team, which strives to be balanced, is well on the way to achieving it.



-- QB Michael Vick, who has missed the last three games with fractured ribs, s expected to start Sunday against Miami.

-- WR Jeremy Maclin was dowgraded from probable to questionable on Saturday.

-- CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has missed the last three games with a high ankle sprain, was a limited practice participant on Wednesday and Thursday. If he can play Sunday, he'll be used in the slot.

-- DE Trent Cole was a limited practice participant Thursday with a hand injury. He is expected to play Sunday.

--CB Nnamdi Asomugha has recovered from the concussion he suffered last week against Seattle and his hyperextended knee is getting better.


-- S Yeremiah Bell, who has been nursing a turf toe injury for the past three weeks, practiced without limitations on Thursday. He's expected to start his 38th straight game against the Eagles.

-- G John Jerry, who started for Vernon Carey at right guard against Oakland last week, split time in practice with the starting unit.

-- RB Daniel Thomas is making more of an impact in practice now that he's fully recovered from his hamstring strain.

-- OLB Jason Taylor needs one sack to reach 136.5, which would tie him with Richard Dent and John Randle for sixth all-time in NFL history.

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