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Bears-Dolphins matchup of the day: Wednesday

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted Nov. 17, 2010 @ 3:08 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Thursday night's Week 11 battle between the Bears and Dolphins.

Bears DE Julius Peppers vs. Dolphins OTs Jake Long and Vernon Carey

It appears OLT Long will try to play with a torn labrum (which he suffered during the team's Week 10 win over Tennessee) on Thursday night, even though reports indicate he could do serious damage to his shoulder by doing so.

Peppers has been moving from side-to-side this season, so he could line up across from ORT Carey at times, but he likely will be facing Long — and perhaps an extra blocker — for most of the game.

Stopping Peppers from driving into the backfield is hard enough for even elite blockers like Long when they're healthy. It would be a remarkable performance if Long can keep him from getting to QB Tyler Thigpen, who will be making his first start since 2008. Long is athletic enough to slide and keep Peppers in front of him.

Miami is likely going to call for some quick-hitting pass plays and may roll Thigpen away from Peppers' side to help out the blockers charged with getting in his way. Long and Carey also could be aided by a tight end or a chipping back in pass protection.

The Dolphins have to be careful not to forget about the Bears' other defensive end, Israel Idonije. He can capitalize when teams shift attention to Peppers' side, leaving him in one-on-one matchups.

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