Game preview: What to look for?

The Dolphins open the preseason Saturday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars and they have a lot of questions to answer between now and the Sept. 12 regular season opener against the Tennessee Titans. Maybe the Dolphins will start getting some answers tonight, but there are some areas of the team that will remain mysteries for a while.

Obviously, all of the major question marks involve the offense, where really nothing is settle other than Randy McMichael will be the starting tight end.

The Dolphins will start getting an idea Saturday night whether the combination of Travis Minor and Sammy Morris will be able to get the job done at running back, even though it will be operating against Jacksonville behind an offensive line that still has some unresolved issues.

The Jaguars had one of the best defenses in the league in the latter part of the 2003 season, so this game will represent a good challenge for the Dolphins offense.

And, clearly, the running game is the area to focus on Saturday night because the passing game currently is crippled -- and not just because of David Boston's knee injury.

Along with Boston, Chris Chambers, Derrius Thompson and Terrence Wilkins also are expected to sit out Saturday night, and Kendall Newson is a major question mark as well.

That leaves J.R. Tolver and Snoop Minnis as the probable starters, with guys like Sam Simmons, Bobby Sippio, Willie Johnson and Ronald Bellamy also get playing time against Jacksonville.

Because of the situation at wide receiver, it might be difficult to get a read on the quarterback battle because Jay Fiedler and A.J. Feeley won't get the full arsenal.

Because of that, Coach Dave Wannstedt is expected to change his plans at quarterback. Fiedler, who was expected to play the entire first half against Jacksonville, now might split the first half with Feeley, with the roles being reversed next week against Washington.

Along the offensive line, the thing to look for is the play at right guard, where Greg Jerman and Taylor Whitley are battling for the starting job, with first-round pick Vernon Carey as another candidate if Wannstedt decided to move him over from right tackle.

The Dolphins probably won't have great success passing against Jacksonville, but it will be interesting to see how Jerman and Whitley hold up in pass protection.

Carey is another one who needs to have a good showing because he has been less than overwhelming so far.

On defense, it will be a makeshift lineup the Dolphins put out there because Tim Bowens, Zach Thomas, Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison all are expected to sit out. And, of course, unsigned Adewale Ogunleye also will be missing in action.

The spots of interest on Saturday night will be at left defensive end, where David Bowens will try to cement his spot as Ogunleye's successor in the event of a long holdout, and at cornerback, where we'll find out if Will Poole's tremendous work if camp can carry into the games.

On special teams, the Dolphins are looking for someone to step forward and claim the return jobs, but a couple of the candidates -- Wilkins and Newson, to name two -- won't be factors Saturday night.

Look for Sam Simmons to get a long look against Jacksonville.


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