AN IMPORTANT GAME

As far as preseason games go, the Dolphins face one Saturday night at Houston that it just about as important as it gets. The Dolphins are considered by many to be Super Bowl contenders, but they have looked nothing like that in their first two games.

The third preseason game is the game where the starters will see their only extended action before the start of the regular season, and the Dolphins need to be impressive against the expansion Texans.

Quarterback Jay Fiedler, who will play the entire first half, needs to rebound after a horrendous performance in the 24-7 loss to New Orleans.

Ricky Williams, who also will play a half, needs to get a rhythm going and put up some yardage.

The special teams units need to have a good night after allowing a touchdown against both Tampa Bay and New Orleans.

The run defense needs to be better.

Put simply, the Dolphins need to give themselves something to feel good about — all the way across the board.

"It's the third game, that's what makes it important," said Coach Dave Wannstedt. "We need to go out and play good. We need to go out and make some improvement and clean up some of the mistakes we've made."

A big difference in this game also will be the fact the Dolphins actually prepared a game plan for Saturday night's game, something they didn't do against either the Bucs or Saints.

"We've been fairly sloppy the first couple of games, but we played two games in four days," said cornerback Patrick Surtain. "I'm not making excuses, but we didn't have our legs. We've been working this week and we (did some) game-planning, so we'll be much more prepared for this game, and hopefully we can go out there and take care of business."

What follows is a glance at the Dolphins-Texans matchup.

WHO: Miami Dolphins (0-2 in preseason) vs. Houston Texans (1-2)

WHEN: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET

WHERE: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas

TV: No national television

COACHES: Dolphins, Dave Wannstedt (3rd year with team); Texans, Dom Capers (1st year)

PRESEASON SERIES RECORD: First meeting

Injuries: Dolphins — DT Tim Bowens (right big toe), CB Omare Lowe (ankle), DE David Bowens (left hand), LB Scott Galyon (thumb) are out. DE Rob Burnett (hamstring) is doubtful; Texans — T Tony Boselli (shoulder), WR Larry Davis (hamstring) TE Rashod Kent (calf), LB Jason Lamar (leg), T Max Lane (knee), C Chris Lorenti (ankle), C Mike Newell (shoulder) and T Ryan young (groin) are out; S Hakim Akbar (groin) and WR Atnaf Harris (hamstring) are doubtful.


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