The Dolphins open their preseason schedule Friday night with a game against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs, but it would be a mistake to use this game as a barometer for when the Dolphins are right now.

That's because the early part of the preseason is pretty much a time to evaluate the younger players on the roster.

So guys like Ricky Williams, Chris Chambers, Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Junior Seau and Sam Madison will only see very limited action against the Bucs.

As of Friday afternoon, it was still uncertain whether Jay Fiedler would start at quarterback or whether he'd have to sit out because of back spasms that forced him to miss the last two days of practice.

If Fiedler sits, then Brian Griese would take over as the starting quarterback against the Bucs. But by the second half, you can expect a heavy dose of the younger players, the guys who are trying to make an impression and land a roster spot.

"(I'm excited to see) the receiver position, the offensive line, the young linebackers and the young corners," said Coach Dave Wannstedt. "As strange as it sounds, I'm about as excited to see how our young backups work out as any year we've been here.

"It's been pretty cut and dry in other years, who your couple of linebackers were going to be, for example, or you fifth receiver. But this year there's more good competition than we've had."

What follows is a glance at the Dolphins-Bucs matchup.

WHO: Miami Dolphins (0-0 in preseason) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

WHEN: Friday, 8 p.m. ET

WHERE: Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Fla.

TV: Local television only

COACHES: Dolphins, Dave Wannstedt (4th year with team); Bucs, Jon Gruden (2nd year)


LAST FIVE PRESEASON MEETINGS: 2002 at Tampa Bay, Bucs 14, Dolphins 10; 2001 at Tampa Bay, Dolphins 17, Bucs 14; 2000 at Miami, Dolphins 15, Bucs 13; 1998 at Miami, Dolphins 14, Bucs 13; 1997 at Tampa Bay, Bucs 24, Dolphins 10

DOLPHINS INJURIES: QB Jay Fiedler (back) is questionable; WR Oronde Gadsden (ankle), WR James McKnight (shoulder), DE Rob Burnett (knee) and CB Patrick Surtain (knee) are out.

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