OFFENSE BANGED UP

The injury to starting quarterback Jay Fiedler has gotten most of the attention, but it's far from the only one on offense. In fact, the Dolphins attack could have a totally different look in Sunday's game against Buffalo.

In addition to Fiedler, there's a distinct possibility that both starting wide receivers, Chris Chambers and Oronde Gadsden, will miss the game because of injuries. There's also no guarantee that tackle Mark Dixon will be ready to return after missing the last two games because of an ankle injury.

That means the Dolphins could be without four starters on offense for the Buffalo game.

And that will put guys like Ray Lucas, James McKnight, Dedric Ward and Marcus Spriggs in the spotlight.

"It's our time to shine," said Ward, who came up with the clutch catch to set up Olindo Mare's game-winning 53-yard field goal Sunday night at Denver. "Myself and James have been kind of waiting in the wings; now we have an opportunity and we have to step up and take advantage of it."

Coach Dave Wannstedt is concerned about the rash of injuries that have hit the offense, but he takes some solace in the fact that the replacements are all guys who have started in this league.

Spriggs has started the last two games, Lucas started nine games for the Jets in place of an injured Vinny Testaverde in 1999, Ward started for the Jets his last season there, and McKnight started for the Dolphins last year before losing his job to Chambers.

"We're not putting in guys who haven't played before and haven't played in big games," Wannstedt said. "Guys have to step up. The guys are beat up right now, there's no question about it. It is what it is. Other guys have to be ready to step up if their number is called."

Of the four injured players, Fiedler is the only who has officially been declared out, but Gadsden and Chambers are considered long shots to go.

A return to the starting lineup is something McKnight is more than ready for.

"I'm just going to continue doing what I've been doing all year long — good study, good practices, hard, crisp practices, understanding my assignments and my adjustments — and be prepared to do whatever on Sunday," he said. "I guess that role is going to increase from last week. I'm prepared and I've always been prepared."

McKnight and Lucas spent a lot of time working together during the preseason and have continued to do that during the early part of the regular season.

And that can only help come Sunday.

"It helped a lot," McKnight said. "We don't have any doubts in Ray Lucas' ability. You know he's going to come out with a lot of energy, he's going to be poised. He might have little jitters here and there, but we're going to go out there and we're going to make some plays, we're going to make some plays, we're going to make some plays."

And that's the bottom line for the Dolphins. They need their backups to come through with some big plays against Buffalo.

"I'm excited every week," McKnight said. "The opportunity this week just increased. We've got some guys just banged up right now, but they'll be back and it's up to us — Dedric and myself — to continue the pace we've been on so far."


Dolphins Report Top Stories