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Dolphins-Browns matchup of the day: Thursday

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Posted Sept. 22, 2011 @ 11:46 a.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Dolphins-Browns game: 

Miami's running game vs. Cleveland's run defense

In Week One against New England, the Dolphins used Reggie Bush as their featured back. He carried 11 times for 38 yards, and he was targeted 10 times, with nine catches for 56 yards and a TD.

However, in Week Two against the Texans, rookie RB Daniel Thomas got the bulk of the work. Thomas, who missed the opener with a hamstring injury, racked up 107 yards on 18 carries. Bush, meanwhile, carried six times for 18 yards and had one catch for three yards.

Bush, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2006, is best in space, while Thomas — who's listed at 228 pounds, 25 more than Bush — gives the Dolphins a bigger option if they want to run in between the tackles.

The Browns, who have surrendered 248 rushing yards in two games, were more sound vs. the run in Week Two than they were in the opener, when Bengals RB Cedric Benson sprinted through a gaping hole off the right side for a game-clinching 39-yard TD. However, improvement vs. the run is still needed. Cleveland allowed 109 yards on 26 carries vs. Indianapolis, including rushes of 18, 15 and 12 yards.

Cleveland's run defense is stoutest up the middle. Veteran DT Ahtyba Rubin gives great effort, and rookie NT Phil Taylor is a player on the rise. Also, MLB D'Qwell Jackson is a better fit in the 4-3 than he was in a 3-4 front. The Dolphins might look to test the Browns' defensive ends, as the Cleveland has had some problems defending the run on the edges.

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