The Dolphins want the third preseason game to be their dress rehearsal for the 2012 regular season. They'll treat the week like a regular game week. Starters will probably play into the second half. By the time the game is over, the club wants direction on its starting quarterback for the start of the season.
So what does that make the second preseason game?
The game Friday night against Carolina?
An off day for a handful of veterans.
This week has seen more players miss practice due to some sort of bump, bruise, tweak or twitch than at any time during the preseason. And most are likely to miss the Carolina game as the team focuses in on the greater importance of the Atlanta Falcons in the third preseason game.
That means as many as five starters will sit out Friday night.
Don't expect two-thirds of the starting linebackers to play as neither Karlos Dansby nor Kevin Burnett have practiced this week. Don't expect Cameron Wake to play as he continues to recover from an undisclosed injury after being involved in an auto accident. Don't expect to see backup defensive tackle Tony McDaniel. That's three starters on the front seven and a key backup likely out.
On offense, don't expect to see starting right guard Artis Hicks. Obviously wide receiver Brian Hartline will not play. Neither will quarterback David Garrard, who was supposed to start last week before suffering a left knee injury and is not yet one week into a three-to-four week rehabilitation period after urgery.
You would think the Hicks injury opens the door for Eric Steinbach to make the much-expected charge to the starting unit. But no. He's got an undisclosed injury as well and hasn't practiced the past couple of days and is questionable to play.
So what does this all mean?
Well, John Jerry probably starts at right guard.
Gary Guyton and Jason Trusnick will fill in for the injured starting linebackers. Rookies Derrick Shelby or Olivier Vernon will likely start at defensive end.