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Bills-Dolphins match patchwork lineups

10/1/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

You often hear about football being a chess match.

Sunday's game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins in Land Shark Stadium reminds me of the time my brother and I dug our old chess set out of the closet. About eight pieces were missing. So we rummaged through the old man's battery bin for some 9-volts and D-cells to fill out the ranks along with a couple of action figures.

I think Chewbacca to queen 4 won it.

The Bills and Dolphins will look similarly patched together.

Each team is enduring significant personnel issues. The Dolphins could be without their most important players on either side of the ball. Quarterback Chad Pennington is done for the year because of a right shoulder injury, and reigning AFC sack leader Joey Porter has been limited in practice by a hamstring problem.

Second-year quarterback Chad Henne will get his first NFL start.

"We believe he can do it, and we know he has the skills and the talent to do it," Dolphins outside linebacker Jason Taylor said. "We also know he’s going to go through some growing pains and make mistakes. Even the best quarterbacks in this league make mistakes.

"We’re there for him. I talked to him briefly and said, 'Go out there and do what you do. It's your team. We’re going to have your back, and we’re going to follow you.'"

The Bills' injury situation could help Henne big time.

Already without top linebacker Paul Posluszny, three-quarters of the Bills' starting defensive backfield could be sidelined. Right cornerback Leodis McKelvin was placed on injured reserve Thursday. Free safety Donte Whitner had thumb surgery and is expected to miss the game. Strong safety Bryan Scott didn't practice Thursday and is considered questionable.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams missed practice with a groin injury.

Buffalo's offensive line could be without starting left tackle Demetrius Bell. A groin injury kept him off the field for a second straight practice.

The Bills have already lost opening-day right tackle Brad Butler for the year. If Bell can't go, right tackle replacement Jonathan Scott will flip over to the left side. Kirk Chambers, released on roster cutdown day, would be the right tackle.

"It's a challenge, no doubt about that," Bills coach Dick Jauron said. "But there's nothing we can do about it except to take the next step, see how the health is on Sunday and accept that fact that everybody in the league has injuries. Somehow you've got to get through them."