Barring a change of heart from Coach Dave Wannstedt, rookie Morlon Greenwood will make his first NFL start Sunday against the New England Patriots.<P>When asked if he was contemplating any lineups changes this week, Wannstedt said Greenwood would start at linebacker.<P>

The coach did add this qualifier: "He'll split time with Twan (Russell) at practice, and if he practices good, he could start."

Russell has started the first three games at strongside linebacker for the Dolphins, but Wannstedt said Russell's biggest value to the team is on special teams. Russell has been bothered by a sprained neck in recent weeks, although he hasn't missed any action.

Greenwood, for his part, impressed Dolphins coaches from the time of the minicamps and it appeared a foregone conclusion he would be given the starting strongside linebacker job.

But a sprained foot sidelined Greenwood for the entire preseason. Greenwood played on special teams during the season opener at Tennessee, but was inactive for the games against Oakland and St. Louis as he continue to work his way back into shape.

Wannstedt feels Greenwood's time has come.

"Twan has done a good job for us and he'll play linebacker some, but we'll see if Morlon can help us," Wannstedt said. "With Twan being slowed, and with Morlon getting healthy, it's a good week to get him started."

Wannstedt said he could wind up using both Greenwood and Russell against the Patriots.

Russell, who had started only two games of his 42 NFL games before this season, took the news in stride.

"I respect the coach's decision," he said. "I'm a team player. There's no 'I' in team. If this is the way we had the best chance of winning, then I'm all for it."

As for Greenwood, he's obviously excited.

"i'm looking forward to the opportunity," he said. "I learned a lot watching Twan, and he did a great job. I'm just trying to contribute any way I can."

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