GAME DATE: 10/28/07
TV: FOX, Thom Brennaman, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
SERIES: 6th meeting. The Giants lead series, 3-2. The Giants have won both games in Miami. In 1972, the Giants were the penultimate victim in the Dolphins' perfect 14-0 season, a 23-13 victory in Yankee Stadium.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Giants' biggest concerns are adjusting to a game played in London and not taking the winless and beat-up Dolphins lightly. Expect to see RB Brandon Jacobs used early on to set up vertical attacks against Miami's beleaguered secondary, which is likely to start FS Jason Allen, who was considered a 2006 first-round bust just two weeks ago. The key for the Giants is simply executing, which will be made significantly easier with Dolphins MLB Zach Thomas likely out. ... and hold on: It's time for Dolphins QB Cleo Lemon to take the next step in his progression if Miami is going to be competitive. Coach Cam Cameron is stressing ball security, especially with the Giants chock full of speedy pass rushers. Without injured RB Ronnie Brown, Cameron will use a mix of Jesse Chatman, Patrick Cobbs and rookie Lorenzo Booker in the backfield.
KEY INJURIES: SS James Butler (hamstring) is questionable and would be replaced by seventh-round rookie Michael Johnson. Dolphins: Brown (knee) and QB Trent Green (concussion) are out for the season; Thomas (neck injury following traffic accident) did not make the trip to London. TE David Martin (groin) is questionable.
FAST FACTS: The Dolphins are 0-7 for the first time in franchise history. ... The Giants' 27 sacks in seven games is five fewer than their total all of last season.
-- Coach Tom Coughlin made it official, saying that he has activated rookie WR Steve Smith (out five weeks with a fractured scapula) and that he is expected to play Sunday in London.
-- DE Justin Tuck, who cannot crack the starting lineup despite seven sacks, 26 tackles eight hurries, four quarterback hits and one pass defensed, continues to draw praise from the coaching staff. "He is making steady progress," Coughlin says. "We liked what we saw of him as a rookie and then he had that unfortunate (foot) injury last year. Now he's healthy and he's important to our team."
-- RDE Osi Umenyiora was "going home" when the Giants flew to London. He was born there and spent the first seven years of his life in Great Britain. "It's kind of a kick to go back," he said. "I still have some good memories there."
-- Another foreign-born Giant is the other end, Michael Strahan. He was born in Germany (an Army brat) and didn't move to the U.S. until he was 17 years old. "I was in England several times," he said, "but this will be a first, going there to play football."
-- Rookie LCB Aaron Ross already has more interceptions (three) than any Giant managed last season. But the team performance is right on track -- the Giants had 17 picks last season and going into Week Eight they have eight. "The toughest thing for me to learn," said the first-round pick via Texas, "was how to play the nickel back position and the speed this game is played at."
-- SS James Butler may relinquish his starting status to rookie seventh-round pick Michael Johnson on Sunday. Butler has hamstring and ankle injuries, and considering how both of them have played recently, it could be a permanent change.
-- TE David Martin is battling a serious groin problem and Cameron said his playing status will be a game-time decision. However, it seems unlikely that he'll be medically cleared to play because the injury prevents Martin from running full speed. Justin Peelle is presently working with the starters and Aaron Halterman was signed from the practice squad to compensate for his possible absence.
-- S Lance Schulters, who was signed on Tuesday to address depth issues at safety, is having visa issues and was in Chicago to clear them up on Thursday. He does have a passport and will join the team in London after taking a commercial flight. If he's cleared to play he'll likely serve as the primary backup at safety despite only participating in one practice this week.
-- NT Keith Traylor missed his second straight practice Thursday because of an undisclosed illness. However, coach Cam Cameron is confident the 16-year veteran, who has battled ankle and knee problems all season, will be healthy enough to play on Sunday against the Giants.
-- WR Ted Ginn Jr. will be making his third start of the season and could be on the verge of a breakout game. Ginn has contributed six catches for 60 yards this season, but he has been one of this week's biggest playmakers at practice, consistently making big catches with his ability to adjust to ball in the air. He's quickly becoming one of Cleo Lemon's favorite targets.
-- RB Lorenzo Booker will likely be active for his first game this season. Booker, a former Florida State standout who the Dolphins selected in the third round, had been shelved because of all the talented tailbacks ahead of him on the depth chart. The coaches had advised him to treat this season like a redshirt year, instructing him to work on getting stronger and sharpening his skills. Now that Ronnie Brown's knee injury has finished his season Booker will likely be called on for his open field skills, which makes him dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield.
-- QB John Beck began working exclusively with the base offense because of Casey Bramlet's addition to the practice squad this week. Beck, the Dolphins' second-round pick, had been splitting his time running the second-team offense and running the scout team, getting the defense prepared. Bramlet's addition should speed up his development, increasing the likelihood that Beck could start at some point in the second-half of the season.