Coming into the 2012 NFL season the Miami Dolphins were ranked in the bottom 5 of most predictions (I saw a lot of bottom 3 to be honest). Week 1 was an understandable loss to the Houston Texans. The Texans are awesome. A week 2 victory over the Oakland Raiders had the team at 1-1, and their play in the Raiders game gave a lot of cause for optimism, however a win-turned-into-a-loss hit this team in last weeks loss to the New York Jets. If the ‘Phins are going to be a surprise team in 2012 then a week 4 W is imperative. A 1-3 start is the sort of start for a bottom-5 team. A 2-2 start would give the team a chance to be a pleasant surprise in 2012.
The opponent is the Arizona Cardinals. We know they have the amazing Larry Fitzgerald and we are likely to see CB Sean Smith on him, but the other WR Andre Roberts has made big catches for this team and is a legit contributor to the 3-0 Cardinals. All week we saw CB Richard Marshall sit out of practice with a back issue, but word is that he will indeed play this weekend vs Roberts and the Cards.
This is good news. Marshall was very good in training camp, to the point where GM Jeff Ireland felt he was okay to trade former #1 CB Vontae Davis as Marshall had surpassed Davis on the depth chart. The team was also looking to give 3rd year CB Nolan Carroll more playing time/responsibility.
Marshall has had an up-and-down regular season, but he played 2011 on Arizona so he brings knowledge/experience about what they will try to accomplish in their passing game. We are likely to see Smith cover Fitz, and get safety help, so we will look for Marshall to be in one-on-one scenarios most of the game.
The ‘Phins D has been very good on 3rd downs, and it is actually on 2nd down where Roberts is doing his damage so Kevin Coyle is surely preparing Marshall to be ready for heavy action on 2nd down, and Smith to be on the lookout vs Fitz on 3rd down.
If Marshall can play on Sunday he will have to be up to speed. Not just because Roberts/Fitz are legit WRs, but Arizona tight end Todd Heap may miss this game which will place even more emphasis on Roberts/Fitz to produce.
In the off-season Marshall signed a 3 year $15 million deal with Miami so they are committed to him and they have certain expectations for him. Word is that Marshall’s absence from practice was more of a rest thing than it was a injury that required missing game-time.
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