THIRD TEST TONIGHT

The Dolphins make their preseason home debut Saturday night when they take on the San Diego Chargers, with whom they practiced for two days.<p>As cutdown day approaches, it's becoming more and more important for young players to make the most of their opportunities. It's also becoming increasingly important for the veterans to sharpen their game as the Sept. 9 regular season opener at Tennessee gets closer and closer.<p>

What follows is a quick look at Saturday night's game against San Diego.

WHO: Miami Dolphins (1-1 in the preseason) vs. San Diego Chargers (1-0)

WHERE: Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Fla.

KICKOFF TIME: 7 p.m. ET

TELEVISION: No national television (shown locally on WFOR-TV, Channel 4, on tape delay beginning at 9 p.m. ET)

LINE: Miami by 3½

COACHES: San Diego, Mike Riley (3rd year); Miami, Dave Wannstedt (2nd year in Miami, 8th year in NFL)

PRESEASON SERIES RECORD: The Chargers lead 2-1

LAST PRESEASON MEETING: 1999 at San Diego, Dolphins 13, Chargers 10

INJURIES: Dolphins — DT Tim Bowens (knee), T Anthony Cesario (knee), FB Deon Dyer (hand), LB Morlon Greenwood (foot), QB Josh Heupel (wrist), RB J.J. Johnson (knee), TE Alonzo Mayes (shoulder), WR O.J. McDuffie (toe), CB Patrick Surtain (knee), WR Dedric Ward (foot) are out; DT Jermaine Haley (thumb), G Todd Perry (back), S Shawn Wooden (hamstring) are questionable.

Chargers — RB Terrell Fletcher (hernia), C Roman Fortin (knee), TE Freddie Jones (hernia), DE Michael Mohring (knee), FB Terry Witherspoon (knee) are out.

WHEN THE DOLPHINS HAVE THE BALL: The offensive line remains the big concern for the Dolphins, particularly the backups. Marcus Spriggs hasn't exactly drawn rave reviews for his work in the two preseason games, but he remains the starter at left tackle. The San Diego defense has been one of the best in the league against the run for the past few years, so this will be a good test to see how well the Dolphins can run against this unit. It also will be interesting to see if the Dolphins keep pulling Jay Fiedler in favor of Ray Lucas when they get close to the goal line, in light of Fiedler expressing his displeasure about the situation earlier this week. Fiedler figures to play a little longer against San Diego than he did against either the Rams or Bucs, but probably will be taken out early in the second quarter.

WHEN THE CHARGERS HAVE THE BALL: The Chargers are a lot more potent offensively this year thanks to the addition of Doug Flutie at quarterback, and his scrambling ability should give the Dolphins defensive linemen a workout. San Diego's biggest problem entering the season is a mediocre offensive line, so the Dolphins really should dominate up front. Dolphins first-round pick Jamar Fletcher wasn't overly concerned with the three penalties called against him in the Tampa Bay game, but he needs to adjust, particularly if he hopes to surpass Ben Kelly on the depth chart. Kelly has been impressive throughout camp and has put himself in a position where he actually could be the team's third cornerback, when it seemed a given all along that it would be Fletcher. The only other position of uncertainty on defense is the strongside linebacker spot. Rookie Morlon Greenwood is still sidelined, giving Twan Russell and Scott Galyon an opportunity to get the job.


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