REPORT CARD

Here's a breakdown of how every unit on the Dolphins performed in the 14-10 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.<P>

QUARTERBACKS — Coach Dave Wannstedt said afterward he was happy with the way the three quarterbacks performed, and he has every reason to be. Ray Lucas, in particular was impressive. Jay Fiedler threw one pass that easily could have been intercepted, and it was the type of throw he's had a nasty habit of making at times. That needs to be corrected. Zak Kustok started off slowly, and his lack of arm strength really showed on his interception. But he rebounded nicely and moved the ball. But Lucas was the star of the group. Grade: B

RUNNING BACKS — The Dolphins rushed for only 57 yards as a team, and no one had a good night running the ball — not Ricky Williams, not Travis Minor, not Leonard Henry. The only positive at this position was the play of Rob Konrad, who looked good catching the ball. Grade: D+

RECEIVERS — Robert Baker had a phenomenal evening, and highlighted a good night by the receivers as a whole. Tight end Alonzo Mayes and young wideout Sulecio Sanford both dropped passes, but Baker's performance really stood out. Grade: B-

OFFENSIVE LINE — The Bucs presented a difficult challenge for the preseason opener because they like to blitz all night long. Wannstedt said he also liked the way the offensive line played. We're not sure we agree with him on that one. There weren't any big holes opened in the running game, and although the Dolphins didn't allow any sacks there was pretty constant pressure on their quarterbacks. This will need to improve. Grade: C-

DEFENSIVE LINE — The Dolphins came up with seven sacks, so obviously there is no problem with the pass rush. Adewale Ogunleye was the star here, with four sacks. That's the good news. The bad news is Tampa Bay rushed for almost 200 yards. Yuck! The defensive linemen have to share some of the responsibility for that. Grade: B-

LINEBACKERS — Rookie Justin Seaverns forced a fumble to create the Dolphins' only takeaway of the evening, but allowing 200 yards rushing doesn't speak well for the play of the linebackers. This is an area of concern, and that certainly hasn't changed after the preseason opener.

DEFENSIVE BACKS — The Dolphins always play good pass defense, and they did again on Monday night. Patrick Surtain had a nice breakup, so did Omare Lowe. But the tackling wasn't particulary impressive on any level of the defense, and that included the secondary. Grade: C

SPECIAL TEAMS — Allowing a touchdown on the opening kickoff is not the way you want to start the preseason. The Dolphins also saw Olindo Mare miss two field goals, something that usually doesn't happen. The Dolphins did get a couple of big plays on special teams, namely a big hit from Trent Gamble and Albert Johnson's 32-yard return on the kickoff following Frank Murphy's 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The kickoff return was the difference in the game, and special teams can't be responsible for a loss. Grade: D


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