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Plans to patch the holes in the works

The Dolphins are hoping right tackle Vernon Carey and wide receiver Brian Hartline can play against the Jets. Sorry, fellas, but hope doesn't often cure a sprained knee and a broken hand/finger.

Therefore the team would do well to make other plans -- just in case.

And it is.

"We have plenty of backup plans," coach Tony Sparano said today, "and we're sitting here on Thursday and [neither] practiced so those plans are in motion."

Hartline is the less likely of the two players to participate in Sunday's game against the Jets. The backup plan with him is for everyone to yell, in unison, "Braaaaandon, please come out and play!"

That's right. Brandon Marshall, who has missed the past two weeks with a strained hamstring, has been limited once again this week in practice. But at least he's practicing. So the Dolphins are hoping he'll be available for the Jets.

That means Marshall and Davone Bess would start while Roberto Wallace and Marlon Moore back up and enter in multiple receiver packages. Moore, by the way, has to step up his game off last week. He dropped a pass and ultimately went without a catch against Cleveland -- a step back from the Oakland game.

While Hartline seems less likely to play than Carey, the situation is more serious at the right tackle spot behind Carey because the "plans in motion," pretty much stink, frankly.

Without Carey at right tackle, the Dolphins may resort to Pat McQuistan, John Jerry, Lydon Murtha, or gulp, rookie Matt Kopa at the spot. Maybe the team can convince Ron Heller to come out of retirement for a couple of hours and he can play the spot.

None of this instills confidence because the Dolphins are hoping to fire up an otherwise extinguished running game, and mixing and matching offensive linemen is not the way to do that. If' I'm the Jets, by the way, I'm expecting a lot of running plays to the left.

On the other hand, the Dolphins could resort to throwing the football and hoping quarterback Chad Henne can get the ball off before Jason Taylor or Calvin Pace smashes him in the face after beating whomever is playing right tackle.

Actually, it's not that bad. The Jets are not a great pass-rush team. But the situation I've just painted should show how much the Nate Garner injury really hurt Miami this year.