Game SnapShot: Baltimore at Miami

<b>Game SnapShot</b><br> <b>KICKOFF:</b> Sunday, 1:00 ET<br> <b>GAMEDATE:</b> 11/16/03<br> <b>SURFACE:</b> Grass<br> <b>TV: </b>CBS, Dick Enberg, Dan Dierdorf, Bonnie Bernstein <br>Baltimore Ravens (5-4) at Miami Dolphins (5-4)<br> <br> <b>SERIES:</b> 5th meeting. The Dolphins have a 3-1 all-time series lead, including a 26-7 victory in 2002. Williams rushed for 102 yards in that game, which marked the first of five consecutive 100-yard performances.

Ravens: offense 25th (1st rush, 32nd pass); defense 2nd (8th rush, 4th pass). Dolphins: offense 26th (18th rush, 26th pass); defense 15th (2nd rush, 27th pass)

Dolphins 17-10

QB Anthony Wright will make his first start of the season after serving as the Ravens' third-stringer for the first nine games. Coach Brian Billick is hoping his arm strength will keep Miami's defense more honest and allow Baltimore to stick with the power running game behind RB Jamal Lewis. However, the Dolphins will still stack the box and dare Wright to be them through the air. QB Brian Griese gets his fourth consecutive start for the Dolphins and must cut down on his turnovers. Part of the problem has been a faulty offensive line, and the Ravens will attack rookie LT Wade Smith in hopes of forcing Griese to get rid of the ball early and make poor decisions.

Ravens: Wright is the 10th different quarterback to start a game in 4 1/2 seasons under coach Brian Billick. ... Baltimore has three wins following losses this season. Dolphins: The offense has converted just two of 20 third downs over the past two games. ... Miami is 3-0 against Baltimore in the regular season and has a 31-14 overall record (.689) against AFC North teams.



--WR Frank Sanders was upgraded to questionable but a sprained right ankle still makes him a long shot that he will play. Marcus Robinson is expected to move to the No. 2 receiver while little-used Ron Johnson goes to No. 3.

--WR Ron Johnson could be active for the first time in six weeks. He is expected to be the No. 3 receiver if Frank Sanders is sidelined with a right ankle sprain.

--CB Corey Fuller is not on the injury report for the first time in three weeks but there is speculation that he may not return to the starting lineup. There has been talk that Gary Baxter could now remain at cornerback and Fuller would be used in nickel situations.

--DB Gary Baxter may not be shifting back from cornerback with Corey Fuller now healthy. Baxter has been solid the past two games at corner and there has been talk that he could stay, which would limit Fuller to nickel packages.

--Tight end Todd Heap likely will be the most affected by the quarterback change. In the first games with Chris Redman, Jeff Blake and Kyle Boller, Heap usually needed three to four games to find a rhythm with each quarterback.


--QB Jay Fiedler practiced on a limited basis Thursday after being fit with a new brace for his sprained left knee. Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said he would not announce until just before kickoff whether Fiedler would serve as the second- or third-string quarterback Sunday against Baltimore.

--WR Derrius Thompson will split snaps with backup Kendall Newson for a second consecutive game Sunday against Baltimore. Thompson is on the verge of losing his starting spot after catching just 14 passes in the team's first nine games.

--LB Zach Thomas (groin) said it would probably be a game-time decision whether he plays Sunday against Baltimore. Thomas said he wants to play because of the importance of the game, but he also doesn't want to risk aggravating the injury to the point he is forced to miss more playing time. Thomas did not play in last Sunday's 31-7 loss to Tennessee.

--WR Kendall Newson will split snaps with starter Derrius Thompson for a second consecutive game Sunday against Baltimore. Newson caught two passes for 55 yards in last Sunday's 31-7 victory over Tennessee.

--C Seth McKinney will make his second start of the season in Sunday's game against Baltimore. McKinney will replace Tim Ruddy, who missed his second consecutive day of practice Thursday because of inflammation in his left knee.

--C Tim Ruddy (knee) will be replaced in the starting lineup by Seth McKinney for Sunday's game against Baltimore. Ruddy hasn't practiced the past two days because of inflammation in his left knee, which was surgically repaired in late September during the team's bye week.

--C Billy Yates is likely to serve as Miami's backup center Sunday against Baltimore with Seth McKinney promoted to the starting lineup in place of the injured Tim Ruddy (knee). A college free agent from Texas A&M, Yates has been inactive for all but one game this season.


Sunday's game between the Baltimore Ravens will feature two of the league's best running backs and best-run defenses.

The biggest showdown is between Ravens running back Jamal Lewis against the Dolphins defense.

Lewis leads the league in rushing with 1,156 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The Dolphins, whose middle linebacker Zach Thomas is questionable, leads the NFL with fewest yards allowed per carry (3.0).

Over the last eight games, the longest run allowed by Miami has been 11 yards.

"When you present a package like Miami to your players, it is good news, bad news," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "The good news is they don't do a lot, so there is only so much you have to look at. The bad news is they don't do a lot because they don't have to, because they are pretty damn good."

The other head-to-head collision is Miami running back Ricky Williams against the Baltimore run defense.

Williams has been struggling lately, having as much trouble breaking 50 yards much less 100. In his last two games, he has not gained more than 37 yards.

The Ravens are coming off a strong effort against the run. They held St. Louis to 47 yards rushing, a season-low for the Ravens.

For the season, the Ravens have allowed just one 100-yard rusher.

When asked if they believe they can run against the Ravens, Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said, "We are going to have to. It will not be easy. We will have to line up and pound it. With all their blitzing, you can't stand back there, hold the ball for very long, and throw it."


The splitting of snaps between Derrius Thompson and Kendall Newson for Sunday's game against Baltimore is reflective of how badly Miami failed to adequately address the wide receiver position in the off-season.

Thompson, who was given a $600,000 signing bonus as part of a three-year, $4 million contract, only has 14 receptions for 196 yards with no touchdowns. Thompson's lack of productivity led to the Dolphins promoting Newson from the developmental squad and playing him extensively in last Sunday's 31-7 loss to Tennessee.

Wannstedt said he spoke with Thompson about the situation following his two-catch outing against the Titans.

"It's very honest and very true that through the course of these nine games that we just felt he hasn't been as consistent as what we would like," Wannstedt said.

The promotion of Newson also reflects upon the lack of faith Miami coaches seemingly have in the two wide receivers who are already on the active roster and led the team in preseason receptions. Sam Simmons' only action has come on special teams, while 2003 fifth-round draft pick J.R. Tolver has been active for only one game this season.

The Dolphins have the option of re-signing wide receiver Oronde Gadsden, who started for the team since 1998. But Wannstedt said the team currently is not interested even though Gadsden can be signed for the NFL minimum salary.

"We have our hands full just getting our guys going," said Wannstedt, whose team is passing offense is ranked 26th in the NFL. "We can't get Chris Chambers enough balls, let alone bring in another receiver and try to get him into the mix."

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