Linebacker Zach Thomas has said he's tired of watching the Dolphins start fast but then fade down the stretch. Not that there's anything wrong with the first part of that equation.

Fast starts have become a tradition in Miami over the last decade, starting with the opener. The Dolphins have won 10 season openers in a row, the second-longest streak in NFL history and by far the longest current streak.

The Dolphins haven't lost an opener since dropping a 35-31 decision at Buffalo in 1991, and the reasons for the incredible streaks range from good preparation to the advantage of playing in the summer heat of Miami.

"I think our preparation in the offseason has a lot to do with it," said quarterback Jay Fiedler. "This is one of the few teams that has everyone in from March all the way through training camp. We've been able to do a lot of work on the new offense putting things together. Our preparation level coming into the season is as high as any team that I've been on."

The Lions, at least on paper, look like the easiest opponents the Dolphins have had on opening day during the streak.

You may remember the Dolphins having to travel to Denver to face the defending champion Broncos to start the 1999 season. And then last year the Dolphins had to travel to Tennessee to face the Titans, who were coming off consecutive 13-3 seasons.

This season opener might be even more important than the others given the high expectations the team is carrying and the new offense it's breaking in this season under Norv Turner.

When asked the importance of getting off to a fast start against the Lions, Fiedler answered: "It's very important. We're starting the season off and we want to make a statement with the first drive. We want to execute well right off the bat and get some confidence going and continue through the game."

Actually, the Dolphins want to establish a rhythem and confidence that will last not only through that game, but through the entire season as well.

That way, they might be able to avoid the quick-start-slow-finish pattern of recent years.

"The offseason and training camp are hard," said defensive end Jason Taylor. "We're always prepared at the beginning. But we have to find a way to take the same energy level and put it to use in November and December."

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