Tampa Bay Game Observations

The way a lot of people saw it, the big story to come out of the Dolphins' 13-10 victory at Tampa Bay on Saturday night was quarterback Daunte Culpepper taking some shots and bouncing back up as if nothing had happened. But there were a lot of different things to take from this game.

On the positive side, you had to love the work of running back Sammy Morris, who not only scored the Dolphins' only touchdown but also had a nifty 14-yard run in the first half.

We've said it before and we're going to say it again: If the Dolphins need someone to spell Ronnie Brown during games or start for him once or twice, Morris is just fine as the No. 2 guy. If Brown sustains a serious injury and has to miss a lot of time, then that's when you start worrying about the backup job.

Morris always has shown ability when he's run the ball; the only issue with him has been durability. And he won't need a lot of that if Ronnie Brown stays healthy.

It also was nice to see young wide receiver Fred Gibson have another good game.

He was the key guy on the two-minute drive at the end of the first half that resulted in a field goal.

Gibson shows a lot of run-after-the-catch ability, and he has now made himself a factor in the battle for one of the last spots on the roster at wide receiver.

We're still thinking that Wes Welker and Derek Hagan will make the team behind starters Chris Chambers and Marty Booker, but right now Gibson might have as good a shot as anybody to stick.

The other obvious highlight against Tampa Bay was the work of Dan Wilkinson, who suited up after only a week of practice and recorded 1.5 sacks in addition to sharing a tackle for loss with Vonnie Holliday.

Wow! Wilkinson obviously will be a major factor for the Dolphins this season, whether he winds up starting at nose tackle or backs up Keith Traylor.

Last on the list of highlights was the work of Olindo Mare, who nailed field goals of 41 and 52 yards and also had two kickoffs for touchbacks, including one that landed in the back of the end zone.

The biggest disappointment was the work of the offensive line, notably newcomers Bennie Anderson and L.J. Shelton.

Anderson was flagged for false starts on back-to-back plays on the first Dolphins drive, and then was beaten for sacks twice on the next drive.

As for Shelton, he also was flagged twice. Not good.

Another disappointment was the play of first-round pick Jason Allen, who got toasted by Edell Shepherd for a 48-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and was seen getting chewed out by Nick Saban as he returned to the sideline.

In fairness to Allen, he's been put in a tough spot, lining up at cornerback after practicing there only a few days, and this after showing up to camp late. He also took responsibility for his problems after the game, saying he had played "horribly."

The bottom line, though, is that Allen has a long way to go to be able to be a major contributor on the Dolphins defense this season, something that this team really needs.


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