1. Are there any injury issues entering the opener?
A. Porter has been practicing this week and he's expected to start on Sunday. The only guy of significance who won't play Sunday is cornerback Andre' Goodman, who started last season but had offseason shoulder surgery. It's not a monumental loss because his replacement, Travis Daniels, was a starter in 2005 before he suffered through an injury-riddle 2006 season.
2. What newcomer do you expect to make the biggest impact?
A. For the Dolphins' sake, it better be Trent Green. Quarterback has been a major issue for this team this entire decade, and it would be a nice change to have decent quarterbacking for once. On defense, the only new face is Porter, so he's the obvious answer there.
3. Is this defense getting too old? Or can they still be a top-5 unit?
A. It's on the verge of getting old, with Zach Thomas turning 34 and Jason Taylor turning 33 on Sept. 1 (they share the same birthday). But those two look like they have at least a couple more good years left and the surrounding cast got younger in the offseason with veterans Kevin Carter, Dan Wilkinson, Jeff Zgonina and David Bowens moving on and getting replaced by guys like Matt Roth, Rodrique Wright and rookie fourth-round pick Paul Soliai.
4. Can they contend for the playoffs?
A. In today's NFL, a quick turnaround is possible and the Dolphins certainly have a playoff-caliber defense. The big question, as it has been for the last decade, is whether the offense will be good enough. At this point, my inclination is to say not quite unless somebody emerges and has a better-than-expected season or first-round pick Ted Ginn Jr. can make an immediate difference on offense and special teams (although he didn't give any indication of that in the preseason).
5. Who had the best training camp this summer?
A. There were two guys who stood out in camp and the preseason, and those two would be DE Matt Roth and CB Michael Lehan. It was huge when it comes to Roth because he's being asked this season to step into the starting lineup and replace Kevin Carter, and he came up with one big play (sack, tackle for loss, interception) in every preseason game he played. As for Lehan, he was expected to have to fight for a roster spot, but he was tremendous throughout camp and the preseason (with the exception of the third preseason game). As a result, Lehan put himself into the No. 3 cornerback role until Goodman returns from his injury.
6. What's your prediction for Sunday?
A: Tough one because it's the first week and we don't really know what each team has, but I'll go ahead and give the homer pick of Dolphins, 16-13. Looks like both teams are better on defense than offense, which is why I would anticipate a low-scoring game.
I just think in the final analysis Trent Green is a better QB than Jason Campbell, and he'll be able to come up with the one play to make the difference.
Behind Enemy Lines Part II
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