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Travel day notes for consideration

Today's a travel for the Dolphins ... and me.

Kentucky here I come!!! (It borders Ohio, folks.)

Anyway things to consider today:

Is Nolan Carroll ready to start against the Bengals? Ready or not he is set for that role because Richard Marshall is out with a back ailment and that presses Carroll into his fifth career start and first of 2012. We all know Carroll has been inconsistent in his previous starts.

The Dolphins hope the progress he's shown to coaches so far this year can carry him through on Sunday.

“I think he has played well," coach Joe Philbin said. "We would like him to make more plays on the ball at times just like our other defensive backs. He’s a competitive guy, he's intelligent, and you know what you’re going to get from him when you put him in the game. You’re going to get a great effort from the kid on the special teams and defense. He’s done well, but I think there is room for improvement."

Let's face it, folks. Carroll was the Dolphins fourth cornerback when training camp began. Now he's starting. If he does not play well, I say the Dolphins are auditioning veterans on Tuesday.

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Many of you have advocated the Dolphins start auditioning kickers after Dan Carpenter has struggled the past two weeks. Well, my understanding is that is exactly what will happen if the Miami kicker misses what is considered to be a makeable kick against the Bengals.

What is a makeable kick?

For Carpenter it seems anything from 45 yards in is a lock. Although he a terrible 29th in accuracy so far this season, he's one for one in the 40 to 45 yard range. The problem is the far distances, or 46 yards and above.

He is 0 for 3 in that department this season and here's something more troubling:

He's a mere 10 for 25 since 2010 from 46 yards or more out. He was, by comparison, 14 of 15 from that same range his first two seasons in 2008 and 2009.

It gets worse.

It so happens that Carpenter went on his slide right after he signed a four-year contract in July of 2010. He is making $2.525 million this season, which is already guaranteed. He's scheduled to make $2.675 million next year.

You better believe the team will bring in a kicker to try to beat him out next year. But this year? It's hard to find someone better on the street and it doesn't help matters any to cut a guy once you've guaranteed his salary for the season.

So if, and this is a big if, Carpenter struggles again Sunday, expect the Dolphins to bring someone in to audition. But none of that will automatically mean Carpenter will be out of a job.

The team might even be convinced to carry two kickers.

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