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Defense has to resolve issues vs. Saints

NEW ORLEANS -- It won't all be about offense tonight when the Dolphins play the Saints. This game will put a spotlight on Miami's defense as well.

And the Dolphins D has issues it has to address and overcome if the good guys are going to win tonight.

The issues?

Injuries is one. As we speak the Dolphins are hopeful Cameron Wake can play against New Orleans -- at least on passing downs. The team will not know for certain about Wake until a couple of hours before game time as that's when trainers and doctors will put Wake through a pre-game workout to see if he's capable of holding up despite his sprained knee.

Do not be surprised if Derrick Shelby starts for the Dolphins regardless of whether Wake is active or not. If Wake is not active, Shelby might get 50-60 plays. If Wake is active, Shelby might get 30-35 snaps.

The Dolphins are also uncertain about the status of defensive tackle Paul Soliai. His chances of playing are much lower than Wake's. As of this weekend, Soliai had not been cleared to play. Once again, pregame will help determine Soliai's availability. I doubt he plays. But he wants to play.

The secondary will be challenged again today and perhaps more than they've been all season. Yes, Miami faced good quarterbacks in Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan earlier this season without cornerback Dimitri Patterson. Drew Brees is better. He's more accurate. He's more experienced.

And Miami has issues in matching up with New Orleans receivers -- particularly tight end Jimmy Graham -- while also being without Patterson for the third consecutive game.

This has to be a big game for Nolan Carroll, Jimmy Wilson and R.J. Stanford. You might wonder about the rookies -- Will Davis and Jamar Taylor. My opinion is they help on special teams but tonight is not the time to introduce them to NFL action.