NOTHING SPECIAL

Things are looking much brighter as the Dolphins head into their bye weekend than they did a couple of weeks ago after that shocking loss to Houston. But not all is well with the team.

At the top of the list of things that must improve in the upcoming weeks is the play of the special teams.

Let's say right off the bat that there has been nothing wrong with the coverage units. In fact, they have been outstanding, with the Dolphins ranking among the league leaders in fewest yards allowed for both punts and kickoffs.

But every other aspect can use some improvement.

It starts with punter Mark Royals, who has struggled in two of the first three games. The Dolphins gave tryouts to five different punters this week, including former Dolphin Matt Turk, and it wouldn't be a great shock if a change was made.

If there isn't, then Royals needs to be a lot more consistent.

Kick returner Charlie Rogers is another whose job could be in jeopardy. Remember, he's on the 53-man roster almost strictly because of his return ability, and so far he hasn't done nearly enough to justify that. He has yet to break a long, and hasn't come really that close.

In addition, Coach Dave Wannstedt mentioned that one holding penalty on special teams early this season was the result of Rogers going in the direction opposite the way the return was set up.

Finally, there's Olindo Mare. He didn't attempt a field goal in the first two games, then missed two of three attempts in the victory over Buffalo. This comes after Mare's worst season as an NFL player.

But Mare's track record suggests he should be the least of the Dolphins' worries. On top of that, he has kicked off better than just about anybody else in the league so far this season.

The bottom line is that unlike Royals or Rogers, he's not going anywhere.

Royals and Rogers very well could become important contributors before the season is over, but they need to get going soon — both for their sake and that of the team.


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