Game Preview: Tampa Bay at Miami

The Dolphins begin their "softer" part of the schedule Sunday when they play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the Dolphins can't afford to overlook anybody if they hope to make a run at the playoffs in 2009. Here's a breakdown of Sunday's matchup at Land Shark Stadium.

WHO: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7) at Miami Dolphins (3-5)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

SITE: Land Shark Stadium


TV: FOX (Ron Pitts, John Lynch, Laura Okmin)

PREDICTION: Dolphins, 31-16

KEYS TO THE GAME: Bucs QB Josh Freeman displayed impressive poise in his first career start, but the Dolphins have game film now and will do everything they can to stop RB Cadillac Williams and then bring pressure. Look for linemen also dropping back to clutter passing lanes and confuse the rookie. The pressure is on Tampa Bay's offensive line to hold its own against Miami's 3-4 front. Miami's offense is run-based and features the Wildcat, but QB Chad Henne has a strong arm that Tampa Bay's defense must respect because of its propensity to get beat for big plays.

FAST FACTS: Tampa Bay has a five-game road losing streak. ... Dolphins DE Randy Starks has at least 0.5 sacks in five consecutive games.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

-- DE Stylez G. White (shoulder) did not practice again Thursday and is questionable for Sunday's game at Miami. White had 1.5 sacks last week against the Packers.

-- WR Antonio Bryant (knee) did not practice again Thursday. He has had about 10 days off since his knee experienced more swelling and may test it in Miami on game day.

-- WR Michael Clayton (knee) returned to practice Thursday and had full participation.

-- WR Maurice Stovall took the first-team reps in place of injured starter Antonio Bryant.

-- G Davin Joseph (ankle) was limited in practice Thursday. He is expected to play Sunday.

-- CB Aqib Talib (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday. Talib leads the Bucs with five INTs.

Miami Dolphins

-- OLB Joey Porter, hindered by hamstring and knee ailments, is extremely doubtful for Sunday's game. Cameron Wake is in line to get plenty of action, especially after a solid effort against the Patriots in which he notched a sack and two pressures.

-- LG Justin Smiley, considered the Dolphins' best run blocker, has been out all week with a recurring shoulder injury that has already been surgically repaired twice.

-- OT Nate Garner, a converted tackle, has been practicing in Smiley's spot, and may get the start. He was in the rotation last week at right guard behind Donald Thomas. Joe Berger is also a possibility.

-- OT Lydon Murtha, a recent pickup from the Lions, is also a tackle who has been taking some snaps at Smiley's spot this week.

-- MLB Channing Crowder, who has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, is practicing without limitations and desperately wants to play. However, his fill-in, Reggie Torbor, has been solid in his absence with 14 tackles the last two games.

-- TE Anthony Fasano, in the midst of a season-long slump, practiced with limitations due to a hip injury. Backup Joey Haynos has been more productive recently with two touchdown catches in the last two games. Fasano has one touchdown grab after a career-high seven last year. The Dolphins could activate rookie TE John Nalbone.

-- NT Paul Soliai is sidelined with an ankle injury.

-- Starting NT Jason Ferguson, who missed last week with an elbow injury, is back practicing without limitations.

-- LB Erik Walden, a special teams stalwart, has been out all week with a hamstring injury, which could hurt the Dolphins' improving kick-punt special teams units.

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