When Buffalo Bills' Jason Peters lines up at left tackle against the Miami Dolphins, it won't be the same.
For the last two years, he has waged some epic confrontations with defensive end Jason Taylor. Both seemed to take turns getting the upper hand in that matchup.
But those days may be over. Taylor, the Dolphins' all-time sacks leader, was traded to the Washington Redskins at the start of training camp.
"It's going to be a little strange," Peters said. "Jason's a great player and I always looked forward to playing against him."
Taylor often said the same thing about Peters. The two developed such a healthy respect for one another that they became a mutual admiration society.
Taylor said last season that Peters was the toughest offensive tackle he faced. The feeling was very mutual as far as Peters is concerned.
"We just brought the best out of each other," Peters said. "He knew I was going to bring it every play and I knew he was going to try to bring it on every play. It was great competition, and I'll miss it."
The Dolphins don't have Taylor any more, but they still know how to get to the quarterback. Few have done it better this season than weakside linebacker Joey Porter, whose 8 1/2 sacks are second only to Dallas' DeMarcus Ware (nine) in the NFL.
If Porter wasn't enough, the Dolphins have defensive end/strong side linebacker Matt Roth, who Peters calls an up and coming pass rusher.
"Those guys are different kinds of pass rushers," Peters said. "They are not as fast and aggressive as Jason Taylor, but Porter is pretty good. He has a lot of sacks and is having a great year. Roth is just a hustle-to-the-whistle kind of guy, and you can't take a play off against him or he'll get a sack on you. No matter they have, the Dolphins are going to come with a good pass rush, so we as an offensive line have to bring our 'A' games."
Starting right guard Brad Butler (sprained knee), defensive end Aaron Schobel (strained toe ligament) and nickel cornerback Ashton Youboty (foot) were the only players not practicing on Thursday. Center Melvin Fowler (elbow) and cornerback Terrence McGee (sprained knee) were limited. Butler didn't attend the portion of practice the media is allowed to see as he's dealing with a sprained knee. Head coach Dick Jauron hasn't ruled out Butler, but Jauron said Wednesday that participation on Thursday was critical for Butler to play against Miami. Jason Whittle is expected to start in Butler's place.
Jauron also is taking a wait-and-see approach to Schobel and Youboty. Schobel continues to wear a walking boot. There is increased optimism on Fowler and McGee, but their availability might not be known until game time.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins still aren't sure about nose tackle Jason Ferguson (oblique), who has not practiced this week.
Linebacker Marcus Buggs figured he'd spend his rookie season on the practice squad. But John DiGiorgio's season-ending knee injury obviously changed those plans.
Buggs, an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt, is on the 53-man roster and ready to contribute.
"I've been waiting through the whole preseason," he said. "Now I'm getting my shot and I'm going to make the best of it. I'm a patient person. Everybody just told me to keep working hard and my opportunity will come soon. And that time has come."
Whether Buggs will be active for Sunday's game in Miami remains to be seen. If he does play, it will be on special teams.
"Special teams will be my big ticket to playing this week," he said. "I feel good about it, so we'll see how the week goes and what the coaches think."
Jauron said rookie tight end Derek Fine is finally ready to play now that he's fully recovered from a thumb injury that sidelined him since the preseason. But it is not known if Fine will make his regular-season debut in Miami.