The Houston Texans offense easily was the worst in the NFL last season, but everybody around the league has an awful lot of respect for quarterback David Carr. And count the Dolphins among that group.

In fact, as they prepare for their opener against the Texans, the Dolphins are bracing for a good dose of deep balls from Carr, the first overall pick in the 2002 draft.

The Texans don't have much in the way of a running game, but they do have some talented receivers in Corey Bradford, Jabar Gaffney and rookie Andre Johnson.

"They throw the ball deep. I think we can handle them up front, but he's got a big arm," safety Brock Marion said Wednesday. "From the last time we played them in the preseason they threw the ball deep. So that's what I'm looking at."

Indeed, if you recall last year's preseason meeting between the teams, which the Dolphins won 24-3, you'll remember Carr going deep on a few occasions.

And he didn't have Johnson at his disposal last year.

"They throw the ball deep more than any team we've seen in a long time," said Coach Dave Wannstedt. "(Offensive coordinator) Chris Palmer was at Jacksonville and they had the same philosophy there. They're going to throw deep at all times, anywhere on the field, regardless of the personnel on the field."

The other part of the equation, though, is that throwing downfield means Carr needs to get protection from his offensive line. And it's not a good offensive line. In fact, it just might be the worst in the league.

That means that it could be a field day for Jason Taylor and Co.

There also should be opportunities for the Dolphins defensive backs to make some plays and perhaps come up with an interception or two. And that's just what they're looking for.

"We just have to go out there and play ball," said safety Sammy Knight. "If the ball is in the air, you have to go up and get it. They're going to throw the ball down the field and hopefully try to get a pass interference or a big play. that's part of their offense. That's part of their game. We're aware of that and we just want to play ball."

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