Broncos-Dolphins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 19, 2011
Tim Tebow couldn't ask for a better place to play his first game since the Denver Broncos made him their starting quarterback. It's unlikely he could find a more welcoming visiting crowd either. Returning to Sun Life Stadium, where he won a BCS national championship in 2009, Tebow and the Denver Broncos visit the winless Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Off to its worst start since 1999, Denver (1-4) announced last week that Tebow would take over for the struggling Kyle Orton following the team's bye. With Orton under center, the Broncos were tied for 25th in the NFL in total yards per game (303.6) and were 27th in passing yards (201.8). Fans had been clamoring for the former Heisman Trophy winner to take over for Orton since he was drafted 25th overall in 2010, and those cries continued during training camp, then grew louder as Orton and the team continued to flounder. "It's not so much fan outcry as we're in a result-oriented business, and we're 1-4," coach John Fox said. "It's not one guy. We'll see if this helps." Tebow went 1-2 as a starter in the Broncos' final three games last season while Orton was injured, completing 49.4 percent of his passes for 651 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran for 199 yards and three scores. He saw his first significant action this season in a 29-24 loss to San Diego on Oct. 9, completing 4 of 10 passes for 79 yards and one touchdown while rushing for another score. "He's just a baller, an all-out baller," linebacker Joe Mays said. "Some people may call him unorthodox, but at the end of the day, he gets the job done." Tebow's first start of the season will come in a familiar setting. He won a state championship as a high school senior and a national title with Florida as a junior at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins had already planned to honor Tebow as well as the rest of the Gators championship team before the game. Tebow is trying to ignore the hype. "I'm very excited about it - not that it's in Miami or in Florida," Tebow told the Broncos' official website. "Just the opportunity to start for the Denver Broncos and that truly is an honor and a privilege." Despite the pressure, it's unlikely Tebow will be a cure-all for the Broncos' problems, which include a struggling defense and a depleted offense. Top receiver Brandon Lloyd was traded to St. Louis on Monday for a conditional 2012 draft pick. Lloyd had 19 catches for 283 yards and no touchdowns this season after he led the league with 1,448 yards receiving last season. The move leaves Eric Decker as Denver's top receiver. "We think it's a position of strength," Fox said of his receiving corps. "We've got some guys coming back - Demaryius Thomas, Eddie Royal - and (we like) the emergence of Eric Decker." Thomas hopes to return this week. He hasn't played this season after tearing his right Achilles' tendon in off-season workouts and shattering his left pinkie during his first padded practice. The 2010 first-round draft pick missed six games last season. "I feel like I'm probably the healthiest since I've been in the league," Thomas said. Royal could also return after missing the last three games with a groin injury. Tebow's return to the site of some of his greatest triumphs, meanwhile, could provide some rare excitement for locals, who have had little to cheer about with their own team. Miami (0-5) hit another low in a 24-6 loss to the New York Jets on Monday, the last of three straight road contests. In his first game starting for the injured Chad Henne, Matt Moore went 16 for 34 with two interceptions - one of which was returned 100 yards for a touchdown. Reggie Bush left the game with a neck injury after rushing for 71 yards. Coach Tony Sparano did not have an update Tuesday, but said Bush could have gone back in if needed. The Dolphins rank 30th in the league with 15.0 points per game and are tied for 30th with six touchdowns. The defense is giving up 390.8 yards - seventh-most in the league. "It's tough right now," receiver Brandon Marshall said. "When you lose, everything looks bad. It's a nasty feeling in the building. It's a nasty feeling every day. "The only thing we can do is fight to try to get a win. We're not going to give up. We have way too much character in the locker room. We owe it to the city of Miami. We owe it to ownership to play better. This is embarrassing." As the Dolphins' struggles continue, calls for Sparano's firing have increased. "Nobody likes to lose," he said. "It sends a bad taste in your mouth and the only way to get rid of the taste is to get rid of it." This is the first meeting between the teams since Miami's 26-17 win in Denver in 2008. The Dolphins have won all seven home meetings. Miami, however, is 1-11 at Sun Life Stadium since Week 16 in 2009.
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