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On Chad's bad shoulder, Dolphins bad record

Chad Pennington said it best late Sunday when in talking about his personal adversity with a serious shoulder injury he might also have been talking for his team: "I'm going to hope for the best and expect the worst," Pennington said.

Although Pennington declined to be specific about his right shoulder's status, the team is fearing the injury is a dislocation of his throwing shoulder. Team doctors popped the shoulder back into place on the sideline but the damage was done, according to a source.

A dislocated shoulder is different than a separated shoulder in that a dislocation means the top of the arm pops out of the socket. In a separation, there could be damage to the ligament that connects the collarbone to the shoulder blade.

Both are serious, particularly for a quarterback.

Pennington will miss an unspecified amount of time. Depending on what the MRI this morning reveals, Pennington could be out as little as three weeks or up to 12 weeks, which would effectively end his season. If the injury -- regardless of whether it's a separation or dislocation -- is acute, it might require surgery.

And that also would be a season-ending situation.

Pennington has already undergone two right shoulder surgeries in the past. Pennington was talking like someone who expects bad news following today's MRI.

"I've worked extremely hard and have overcome a lot of adversity and been able to play when people said I couldn't play anymore," Pennington said. "I've been through two surgeries and I've been able to play and play at a high level. That's quite an accomplishment.

"Right now, I'm in a state of shock, truly disappointed because I know what type of work I've put in and what type of work that our team has put in. For me not to be able to be out there and help us fight through this adversity is tough to swallow."

The Pennington injury makes Chad Henne Miami's new starting quarterback. The Dolphins might also be in the market for a backup because Pat White simply is not ready to be the backup now.

Henne struggled against the Chargers, who riddled him with new coverages as soon as he entered the game.

"I think we gave him a few different looks that he probably hasn't seen yet," cornerback Antonio Cromartie said.

When he came in the game, Henne was confident he was ready to succeed. But he missed some open receivers either by not getting the ball to them or throwing elsewhere.

"I was prepared for this moment," he said of the time he was told to come in the game. "It's only a 7-point game and that's the moment you have to shine and come up and become a player ... Obviously tonight it didn't really show. I made some mistakes, but I'll be in that film room day and night busting my butt and getting better and lead this team."

The Dolphins need the leadership because right now they are winless and with few viable options for getting better.

Do you know any good playmakers for the offense? Do you know any available secondary players that can help stop the bleeding?

The Dolphins need both. Henne got no help, least of all from Ted Ginn Jr., who had six passes thrown his way, resulting in zero receptions.

The team gained 94 yards on its 17-play first quarter opening drive. And then gained only 195 total yards the rest of the game.

The secondary, meanwhile, continued to give up big plays. (This while Renaldo Hill notched an interception Sunday.)

"We can't be giving up explosive plays down the field like that," nose tackle Jason Ferguson said.

This game was depressing on par with last year's loss to Arizona for different reasons. That game was a blowout in which the Dolphins didn't compete.

This game was closer but it was depressing in that the Chargers were clearly the much better team despite missing several key players.Starting running back LaDainian Tomlinson didn't play. Starting center Nick Hardwick didn't play. Starting guard Louis Vasquez didn't play. Linebacker Shawne Merriman left the game after the first half.

And still the Chargers had more talent on the field.

Finally, this column I wrote for Monday's Miami Herald outlines how the things the Dolphins did so well in winning the AFC East a year ago are exactly the kind of things they stink at doing so far this season.

Thoughts?

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