PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--RB Jesse Chatman will most likely not be 100 percent for the rest of the season as he hasn't given his sprained ankle enough rest to fully heal. Expect Samkon Gado to receive the bulk of the snaps against a tough Ravens run defense (ranked third).
--DT Keith Traylor returned to practice and will play Sunday. He'll be needed to help plug running lanes so RB Willis McGahee doesn't get off.
--DT Vonnie Holliday is at the point where he is being saved for game day so his ankle doesn't swell up during the week. But he did practice on a limited basis.
--MLB Channing Crowder has a foot injury that isn't responding to treatment. He missed last week's loss to the Bills and it's not looking very promising for this week against the Ravens.
--MLB Donnie Spragan will fill in for Crowder, who was filling in for Zach Thomas. Derrick Pople will play Crowder's old spot on the weak side, and undrafted rookie Edmond Miles is expected to see some time in the base defense.
--DE Matt Roth (groin) is practicing on a limited basis.
--WR Marty Booker, who missed his first game of the season Sunday with a sore knee, returned to practice Wednesday.
--CB Michael Lehan, who missed Sunday's game against the Bills with a groin pull, practiced on a limited basis, as did DE Matt Roth.
The Dolphins running game has stalled over the past four games and much of that is due to injuries to Ricky Williams and Jesse Chatman. The offensive line has also regressed, so that enabled opposing teams to blitz inexperienced quarterback John Beck, which led to him committing six turnovers over his last 12 series. With a more mobile Cleo Lemon in for Beck, look for plenty of rollouts and checkdowns to rookie TB Lorenzo Booker, who has 12 catches for 97 yards in the last two games. Lemon will take some shots downfield with Ted Ginn Jr. and Derek Hagan to take advantage of backup CBs Derrick Martin and Corey Ivy.
Defensively, the Dolphins will load the box with seven linemen to force QB Kyle Boller or rookie Troy Smith to beat them downfield, anything to take the ball out of RB Willis McGahee's hands, who may have a sore toe, but he loves to have big games against his hometown Dolphins. McGahee is fifth in the NFL with 1,093 yards and seven touchdowns, and he's going against the Dolphins' 32nd-ranked run defense, which is allowing 155.4 yards per game. Boller doesn't have Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap to throw to, and he has just eight touchdowns with nine interceptions. He isn't very mobile, so look for DE Jason Taylor and CB Will Allen to get in some clean shots on a variety of blitz packages.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Dolphins QB Cleo Lemon vs. Ravens' 21st-ranked secondary -- Although the Dolphins haven't had a touchdown pass in any of their last five games, this is their chance as the injury-depleted Ravens' back end has allowed 22 touchdown passes, which is tied for fifth most in the NFL. Pro Bowl CBs Chris McAlister (knee) and Samari Rolle (shoulder) have played just three games together this season. McAlister is out and Rolle may be out Sunday. Their replacements, Derrick Martin and Corey Ivy, are not in the same league so look for Lemon to air it out to WRs Derek Hagan and rookie Ted Ginn Jr., because the Dolphins running game will be hard-pressed to pick up yardage against Ray Lewis and Co., the league's third-ranked rushing defense. Lemon does have an affinity for fumbling, and he will be pressured by the Ravens, who have 25 sacks divided by 14 different players. Nine of their sacks come from the DBs, so it'll be up to Lemon to get outside the pocket with his head on a swivel so he could take advantage of a shorthanded secondary.
Ravens RB Willis McGahee vs. Dolphins run defense -- McGahee should join an array of running backs to post career games against the Dolphins' porous 32nd-ranked run defense. Remember Justin Fargas' 179 yards, Brandon Jacobs' 131, Brian Westbrook's 148 and Fred Jackson's 115? McGahee, a Miami native and University of Miami alum, has gained 539 yards on 160 carries in six games against the Dolphins when he was with the Bills, but has scored just one touchdown. However, he has rushed for 25 first downs in those games. McGahee is just as dangerous as a pass receiver with his 42 catches for 229 yards, and is five catches shy of the team record for receptions by running backs. McGahee is fifth in the NFL in rushing (1.093) and is fifth in the league in yards from scrimmage with 101.7 yards per game. The Dolphins defense is allowing opponents to gain 4.4 yards per carry and is last in the league in rushing yards allowed (2,020). Although McGahee does have a sore toe, the Dolphins' run stoppers are in worse shape. Pro Bowl MLB Zach Thomas is on IR, and his replacement, Channing Crowder, may miss his second game in a row with a foot injury. LB Joey Porter, who has 29 tackles in his last five games, is nursing a shoulder injury, but should play.
Dolphins special teams vs. Ravens kick returners -- The Dolphins continue to struggle on special teams and were only saved from giving up another punt return for a touchdown last week to the Bills' Roscoe Parrish because of a penalty, but this week they'll have to deal with Ravens rookie speedster Yamon Figurs, who scorched the Colts last week for a 94-yard touchdown on a kickoff return. He had 196 yards in kick returns last week against Indy, second most in franchise history. He is ranked ninth in the NFL. The Dolphins are last in opponent's field position, with the opposition starting their average drive on the 34-yard line. K Jay Feely needs some touchbacks, like his predecessor, Olindo Mare.
Crowder is still hobbled by a sprained foot so it looks like Donnie Spragan and Derrick Pope will be forced into action. Without Thomas (concussion), Crowder and a nicked-up Porter (shoulder), look for the Ravens to test Miami by pounding the ball with McGahee.
The Ravens' injury-wracked secondary will give Lemon a chance to prove that Cam Cameron made the right choice by putting him back in as the starter over overmatched rookie John Beck.
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