Friday, 14 September 2012

Lamar Miller could make NFL debut for Dolphins vs. Raiders

MIAMI -- Miami Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas sat out practice for the second day in a row Thursday because of a concussion, increasing the likelihood Lamar Miller will make his NFL debut Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

Thomas, the backup to starter Reggie Bush, was hurt in the second quarter of last week's season-opening loss to the Houston Texans.

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Miller traveled with the team but was inactive. He ran for 1,272 yards last year for the Miami Hurricanes, and the Miami native said he looks forward to returning to Sun Life Stadium, this time as a pro.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "I've been playing there for three years. It's just a blessing. A lot of people don't get this opportunity. I'm just trying to take full advantage."

Also missing practice were receiver Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (knee).

The Dolphins are looking for more productivity from their No. 2 running back. As a rookie last year, Thomas averaged only 3.5 yards per carry in that role, and didn't score in 165 attempts.

Miller averaged 5.7 yards per carry with the Hurricanes and scored 17 touchdowns in 23 games. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Dolphins.

"Obviously Lamar Miller we drafted for a reason," coach Joe Philbin said. "We think highly of him. We think he's going to be a good player in this league."

Miller said Bush, a 1,000-yard rusher last year, has been a helpful mentor.

"He has taken me under his wings," Miller said. "Reggie has been helping me a lot with pass protection and the playbook and studying my opponents."

Miller was the team's busiest running back during the exhibition season. He rushed for 91 yards in 30 carries and caught seven passes for 56 yards.

He said he's ready for a chance in a game that counts, and Bush agreed.

"I think it's time," Bush said. "If he gets his shot he'll do fine."

Regardless of who carries, the Dolphins hope to run the ball more than last week. They averaged 4.2 yards per carry against Houston but abandoned the ground game after falling behind 24-3 in the first half.

GM: No Plaxico Burress, Chad Johnson, T.O. for Raiders

The Oakland Raiders will not go shopping in the bargain bin, looking for a big name receiver. So you can stop asking.

Despite the injury to Raiders receiver Jacoby Ford, general manager Reggie McKenzie said he will not sign Plaxico Burress, Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens.

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"It's not just (their) age," McKenzie said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. "If the right player could add to the group ... we just didn't feel that those three were the right ones. Clear and simple. If I felt like they could have added something to what we were doing, I would have strongly considered it."

Ouch. The Raiders will roll with Darrius Heyward-Bey, Rod Streater and possibly Denarius Moore this week against the Miami Dolphins. McKenzie doesn't want to stunt the growth of his young players by signing old flotsam.

"It starts with a foundation and you have to have the guys around long enough to develop and see that development," McKenzie said. "And we do have a couple of guys ... we were just hit with injuries at that position so early, especially with your No. 1 going down. Then, a guy like Jacoby who we had plans for. Going into it, you felt good but you miss one guy and that can trickle down quickly. If we add guys, I want to make sure and add a guy thatâ??s going to help this team. I just didn't think those three guys were the guys."

We wouldn't be surprised if Burress, Owens and the former Ochocinco remain without gigs all season long.

Green Bay Packers do it with defense, beat Chicago Bears

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On a night when defenses dominated the NFL's most storied rivalry, the Packers got creative -- and it worked.

Punter Tim Masthay and backup tight end Tom Crabtree combined for a touchdown on a fake field goal in the second quarter, and the Green Bay Packers rattled and robbed Jay Cutler in a 23-10 victory over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Thursday.

Cutler threw four interceptions, including a pair to Tramon Williams. Facing a fierce Packers pass rush all night, Cutler was sacked seven times, including 3½ for Clay Matthews. New Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall was held to two catches for 24 yards.

"Clay was incredible," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "Defense causing turnovers, if they play like this we're going to be hard to beat."

Clay Matthews gear.

The Bears also lost running back Matt Forte to an ankle injury.

After Williams collected his second interception, Rodgers finally found the end zone in the fourth quarter, hitting Donald Driver for a 26-yard touchdown and a 23-3 lead.

Driver, who barely played in the Packers' season-opening loss to San Francisco, did a celebratory dance in the end zone, recalling his stint on the "Dancing With the Stars" reality television show.

But Rodgers threw an interception to Tim Jennings and the Bears finally cashed in. Facing fourth-and-7 at the Green Bay 21, Cutler threw a touchdown to Kellen Davis, cutting the lead to 23-10 with 6:49 remaining. But the Bears couldn't mount a comeback as Matthews and the Packers kept turning up the heat.

Rodgers finished the game 22-of-32 passing for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

He got roughed up, too, getting sacked five times. Green Bay got a scare when the NFL MVP appeared to hurt his right arm early in the game, but he stayed in.

Cutler was 11-of-27 passing for 126 yards.

Earlier in the week, a confident Cutler wished the Packers' defensive backs "good luck" in trying to match up physically with a new-look wide receiver corps led by Marshall. Stalked by Williams for much of the night, Marshall didn't see much of the ball. And he couldn't convert his one big opportunity, dropping a potential touchdown in the third quarter.

Forte provided much of what little offense the Bears could muster before leaving the game in the third. He appeared to twist his right ankle while being tackled by Charles Woodson.

Mason Crosby hit three field goals for Green Bay, including a 54-yarder in the fourth quarter.

The biggest play of the night, though, came from the unlikely tandem of Masthay and Crabtree.

With the Packers facing fourth-and-26 on the Chicago 27 late in the second quarter, Masthay, the punter who also functions as the holder on field goals, and Crosby appeared to line up for a field goal attempt.

But Masthay took the snap and flipped the ball to Crabtree, who ran through a huge hole and streaked all the way to the end zone.

"That's a gutsy call," Rodgers said. "It worked out."

Cutler then threw an interception to Williams near midfield with just over a minute left and the play was upheld on a replay review, giving the Packers one last chance to score. Rodgers marched the Packers into scoring range, and Crosby hit a 35-yard field goal.

Cutler then threw his second interception of the night late in the third, this time to Woodson, and the Packers appeared poised to score when Charles Tillman punched the ball away from Jermichael Finley and recovered the ball for the Bears.

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Marshall missed a huge opportunity earlier in the third, when Cutler found him streaking wide open in the end zone -- but the wide receiver couldn't haul it in, and the Bears had to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Robbie Gould that cut the lead to 13-3.

The Packers were coming off a 30-22 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Green Bay struggled to stop the 49ers' balanced offense and came into a short week of preparation still looking for answers in the secondary.

On offense, the 49ers' dominant defense held the Packers to seven points in the first three quarters before a late rally attempt came up short.

Chicago came into the season with high expectations for a beefed-up passing attack, and the arrival of Marshall was a hit right away. Renewing his partnership with Cutler from their days with the Denver Broncos, Marshall caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown and the Bears put up 41 points in their season-opening victory over Indianapolis.

NOTES: Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings was inactive with a groin injury. ... Tillman played despite a shin injury, and Brian Urlacher played his second straight game after having knee surgery during training camp. ... Thursday's attendance was 70,543.