Game Preview: N.Y. Jets at Miami

The Dolphins open their 2008 season Sunday at home against the New York Jets. Here is a complete breakdown of the matchup.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET


TV: CBS (Jim Nantz; Phil Simms)

SERIES: 85th meeting. Jets lead series, 45-38-1. The Jets have won three of the last four games in Miami, and swept the Dolphins last season. The division rivals haven't faced each other in a season opener since 1995, when the host Dolphins drubbed the Jets, 52-14, in the first game of Rich Kotite's ill-fated two-year tenure as Jets coach.

KEYS TO THE GAME: All eyes are on Favre, who has had less than a month to learn a new playbook, which includes much more motion than he is accustomed to, and get on the same page with WRs Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. But Favre's life could be made much easier by RB Thomas Jones. The Dolphins have overhauled their run defense, which is now anchored by mammoth NT Jason Ferguson in the 3-4 scheme, but they still ranked last in the NFL allowing 153.5 yards per game last season. ... QB Chad Pennington starts his first game for the Dolphins against the team that jettisoned him -- pun intended -- in favor of Favre. But the real key for the Dolphins is RB Ricky Williams, who looked as strong as ever during the preseason to win the starting job over Ronnie Brown. With the Jets adding OLBs Calvin Pace (free agency) and Vernon Gholston (No. 6 overall pick) during the offseason and the Dolphins starting LT Jake Long on Pennington's blind side, Miami certainly wants to limit long passing downs.

KEY INJURIES: Jets: CB Justin Miller (toe) could be replaced by rookie Dwight Lowery in he can't play. Dolphins: OLB Joey Porter (back) will start, but his snaps may be limited. ... Brown (sprained thumb) said he is 100 percent.

NEED TO KNOW: Jones' 3,664 rushing yards since 2005 is fifth in the NFL. ... The Dolphins have 27 new players, including 11 rookies, on their 53-man roster.


-- LB Vernon Gholston had trouble covering receivers out of the backfield during preseason, and it's likely the Jets will try to use him mostly in pass-rushing situations against Miami.

-- QB Kellen Clemens appears to have held off Brett Ratliff for the No. 2 quarterback job and figures to have that role in the season opener while Ratliff is designated as the third quarterback. Fifth-round draft pick Erik Ainge, who also made the roster, will be inactive.

-- CB Dwight Lowery, a fourth-round draft pick, could start the opener at right corner if Justin Miller (dislocated toe) isn't ready. Lowery has been working with the first team, although secretive coach Eric Mangini cautioned reporters that David Barrett and Drew Coleman also have received work with the first team.

-- WR Laveranues Coles missed all four preseason games with a leg injury, possibly a hamstring, and thus missed valuable time to establish chemistry with Brett Favre. But he is looking better in practice and could be a factor against Miami.

-- DE Shaun Ellis missed all four preseason games with an injury to his right hand, but has looked healthy in practice and is expected to play Sunday.


-- WR Greg Camarillo went from being on the bubble a week ago to probably starting over Derek Hagan Sunday. Coach Tony Sparano loves his "quarterback-friendly" skills.

-- OLB Joey Porter, bothered all preseason by ankle, knee and mostly back ailments, is fit and ready to play. Expect him to be spelled by OLB Charlie Anderson.

-- FS Chris Crocker wrested the starting job away from Jason Allen in the last week because of his "savvy," according to coach Tony Sparano. Both Sparano and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said it was a tough call and that Allen will be all over the field at free safety, cornerback and special teams.

-- QB Chad Henne has been officially named the backup to Chad Pennington, with John Beck the emergency quarterback.

-- RB Ronnie Brown said he's 100 percent, regarding his torn ACL and sprained right thumb, but look for Ricky Williams to get the bulk of the carries Sunday.

-- OLB Matt Roth will get his first NFL start at outside linebacker after converting from defensive end this summer. Look for the Jets to try to get RB Leon Washington matched up against Roth in pass coverage.

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