REPORT CARD

Here's a breakdown of how every unit on the Dolphins performed in the 24-3 preseason victory over the Houston Texans.

QUARTERBACKS — Jay Fiedler was much, much better than he was against New Orleans, completing 13 of 20 passes and making a couple of really nice throws, particulary a pass in traffic to Oronde Gadsden. But he had no business throwing the ball to Chris Chambers on a deep throw over the middle that wound up being intercepted. He's just got to cut out those bad mistakes. Ray Lucas again was sharp in relief of Fiedler, continuing a tremendous preseason. Zak Kustok played the fourth quarter, but didn't get the chance to do much. Grade: B

RUNNING BACKS — A great, great night at this spot. Ricky Williams finally had some running room and he made the most of it. He broke tackles and also made a nice catch out of the backfield. Robert Edwards started off slowly in the second half but got better the more carries he got. Tremendously encouraging. Travis Minor also got playing time but didn't dazzle. Among the fullbacks, Rob Konrad had a very good night, both carrying the ball and catching passes. Grade: A-

RECEIVERS — The Dolphins didn't have standout performances from any of their receivers, although Dedric Ward again looked very good in third-down situations. Gadsden had a couple of big catches, but he was stripped of the ball after a long gain, resulting in a turnover. Randy McMichael had a quiet night, and no other tight ends caught any passes. Grade: C+

OFFENSIVE LINE — The new-look offensive line didn't get the chance to work together very long because right tackle Todd Wade sprained an ankle early in the first quarter. Then it was Brent Smith's turn to go down with an injury. As a whole, the line had a very strong game. The Dolphins rushed for 164 yards and the pass protection was very good in the first half. If you're looking for negatives, the pass protection started breaking down in the second half after the starters went to the sidelines. But the important thing here is that Mark Dixon looked very impressive at left tackle, while Jamie Nails had a good night at left guard. Grade: B

DEFENSIVE LINE — Adewale Ogunleye had another good game, with two sacks, and Jason Taylor was everywhere. The Dolphins held Houston to 39 yards rushing and applied constant pressure on David Carr. You can't ask for much more than that. Grade: A-

LINEBACKERS — The star here was (who else?) Zach Thomas, who had a sack among his many tackles. On the down side, he was flagged for pass interference in the first half. Derrick Rodgers also was called for offside. The linebackers contributed heavily to the Dolphins' great performance against Houston's running game. Grade: B+

DEFENSIVE BACKS — The Dolphins' starting secondary had a nasty breakdown on a play that resulted in an 82-yard touchdown from Carr to Corey Bradford, but they got a break when Houston was called for holding on the play. Patrick Surtain was beaten badly by Jabar Gaffney on a stop-and-go move but was bailed out when Carr overthrew Gaffney. Jamar Fletcher was beaten on a couple of occasions in the second half, but he did get an interception on a pass that went through Bradford's hands. Shawn Wooden also had an interception, his second consecutive game with a pick. Grade: C+

SPECIAL TEAMS — Finally, the Dolphins got it right. Olindo Mare made his only field goal, Mark Royals punted very well and both Albert Johnson and Jeff Ogden wer very good returning punts. And the best part of all is the Dolphins didn't allow a touchdown, unlike the first two games. Grade: A-


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