Slow-starting Dolphins take on Titans in home opener

The Miami Dolphins started last season — their first under coach Adam Gase — with a 1-4 record. Amazingly, they won nine of their final 11 games and made the playoffs.

This year, with optimism escalating, the Dolphins lost quarterback Ryan Tannehill for the season, signed Jay Cutler out of retirement, had their first game postponed because of Hurricane Irma, traveled to Los Angeles, New York and London for their first three games, and had their starting middle linebacker go AWOL.

The status of wide receiver Michael Crabtree is uncertain after he missed the previous game with a chest injury, but coach Jack Del Rio is optimistic he could return. Fellow wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back Marshawn Lynch have struggled to make plays this season.

Still, the Raiders expect Manuel to be effective against Baltimore.

EJ is a star in this league, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson said. He’s played for a long time and got drafted high in the first round for a reason. We all know what EJ can do. We’re not impressed with the things he did on Sunday. We’ve seen that each and every day in practice. When the time comes, we know he’s ready with all the work he’s put in and the extra time. That’s what quarterbacks do.

Baltimore is dealing with similar challenges.

After opening the season with a pair of dominant victories, the Ravens have struggled mightily over the past two weeks. The offense has been out of sync with Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda out for the year with an ankle injury.

Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown for one touchdown with four interceptions and has been sacked six times over the losing streak. Flacco has taken full responsibility for the struggles, saying he need to throw the ball quicker and make smarter decisions.
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