Game Preview: Miami at St. Louis

The Dolphins begin their season-ending stretch of four road games in five weeks Sunday when they take on the Rams in St. Louis. It's a chance for the Dolphins to bounce back from last Sunday's loss to New England and also keep themselves in the thick of the AFC playoff picture. We break down Sunday's matchup.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

SITE: Edward Jones Dome

SURFACE: FieldTurf

TV: CBS (Gus Johnson, Steve Tasker)

SERIES: 11th regular-season meeting. Dolphins lead series, 8-2, including 3-1 since the franchise moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995. The Dolphins are 1-1 in St. Louis, with the lone win coming on Christmas Eve 1995, a 41-22 victory with Dan Marino throwing three touchdown passes. The win gave the Dolphins a 9-7 record, and when Denver beat Oakland later that day, it allowed Miami to make the playoffs in Don Shula's final season.

KEYS TO THE GAME: With leading WR Greg Camarillo lost for the season, the Dolphins will look more to rookie Davone Bess and probably involve their tight ends more in the passing game. LT Jake Long will be at less than 100 percent while working against Rams DE Chris Long in a battle between the top two picks in the draft. But QB Chad Pennington gets rid of the ball quickly and has plenty of support from the ground game. Miami averages 6.25 yards on first down while St. Louis allows 4.9 yards per carry, so Pennington will typically be working out of comfortable situations. ... The Rams are holding out hope that QB Marc Bulger, RB Steven Jackson and LT Orlando Pace will be on the field this week. All three have practiced and would give St. Louis a chance to avoid the huge deficits that have marked its five-game losing streak. To be competitive, the Rams need Jackson running effectively from the outset. Bulger has been inconsistent and St. Louis doesn't want Dolphins OLB Joey Porter turned loose to test Pace on long passing downs.


Dolphins: Jake Long (ankle) may play, but would still likely share time with RG Ike Ndukwe, while Andy Alleman would slide in at guard.

Rams: Bulger (concussion), Jackson (quadriceps) and Pace (knee) all have a chance to play; CB Tye Hill (knee) is out.

FAST FACTS: The Dolphins close the regular season with four road games in five weeks. ... The Rams are 0-7 against the AFC since the start of 2007.



-- LT Jake Long (sprained right ankle) practiced on a limited basis Thursday and expects to play Sunday.

-- OT Nate Garner has been inactive all season, but coach Tony Sparano is preparing him to play Sunday if LT Jake Long's ankle has a bad reaction on Friday after practicing heavier on Thursday than he did on Wednesday.

-- RG Ike Ndukwe may shift to left tackle like he did last week if LT Jake Long can't go or needs a break. If that occurs, G Andy Alleman will slip into Ndukwe's spot.

-- WR Davone Bess, coming off a career-best game of five catches for 87 yards, will start Sunday in place of injured WR Greg Camarillo, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with a season-ending ACL tear of his left knee.

-- WR Ernest Wilford will be activated after sitting out the last seven games to attempt to pick up the slack for injured Greg Camarillo. He has one catch for 15 yards in three games this season.

-- CB Jason Alle practiced with a cast on his right during the week week after injuring the hand last week against the Patriots. He has practiced full out and is ready to play Sunday.

-- T Kirk Barton was released from the practice squad and cornerback Will Billingsley was re-signed.


-- RB Steven Jackson practiced again Thursday and believes he will be fine to play Sunday against Miami. Said Jackson, "I had two good days of practice and no major setbacks. The leg is a little sore but I was able to give coach (Jim) Haslett what he wanted to see so I guess those are positives things and things are going in the right direction."

-- QB Marc Bulger participated fully in practice Thursday and will start Sunday against the Dolphins.

-- LT Orlando Pace, who practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, had full participation Thursday and is expected to start Sunday against Miami.

-- MLB David Vobora took significant reps with the first unit in practice Thursday, and might start instead of Will Witherspoon, who has injuries to both his shoulders.

-- MLB Will Witherspoon, who has injuries to both his shoulders, practiced on a limited basis Thursday and could yield his starting spot to rookie David Vobora Sunday. Even if he doesn't start, Witherspoon might play in certain situations.

-- TE Daniel Fells has been working as a blocking fullback in practice following the release this week of FB Dan Kreider.

-- WR Keenan Burton, who did not practice Wednesday after having his knee drained, participated fully on Thursday.

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