As if a flight across the Atlantic Ocean to play a regular-season game wasn't distracting enough, the Miami Dolphins don't even seem to know who will be their starting quarterback.
The Dolphins (1-2) are headed to London to play the Oakland Raiders (0-3) at Wembley Stadium on Sunday in the first of three games in the British capital this season. Miami coach Joe Philbin has been asked repeatedly if quarterback Ryan Tannehill will start, but he has been noncommittal.
If you ask Tannehill, at least you get an answer.
"I'm taking the first snap of the game and playing the game," Tannehill said. "I'm prepared to my fullest and go out and try to put this team in a position to win games. Nothing has changed in my preparation or how I'm approaching this game."
The Dolphins arrive in Britain on Friday and plan to practice in the afternoon. The Raiders got to town on Monday and have been getting over the jet lag and getting into their usual practice routine.
Although they have been an ocean apart all week, the Miami quarterback controversy is not lost of the Raiders defense.
"I don't want to get into what the quarterback is doing, is he good or bad," Raiders cornerback Carlos Rogers said Thursday. "They say he's still the starting quarterback of that team, so obviously it's not a backup that they trust, and he's going to be out there."
Here are some more things to know about Sunday's game:
THE OTHER QUARTERBACK: Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is still looking for his first win in the NFL. The rookie from Fresno State has started all three games this year, and coach Dennis Allen seems to like what he sees.
"Obviously we felt good about him when we drafted him," Allen said. "I knew he was really smart but I guess I didn't know exactly how smart he was until we actually put him in those situations and watched him operate and watched him retain the information we were giving him.
"We've put a lot on him. We're in no way limited as to what we can do with him at the quarterback position. We can throw a lot of different stuff at him. He does a great job operating it and keeping our offense on the same page."
With a good game on Sunday, Carr could end up getting his first professional win in a foreign country.
FIRST HALF: The Dolphins have struggled plenty in the first half this season, trailing in all three games so far. And after opening the season with a win over the New England Patriots, the Dolphins have lost the last two by 19 points each.
Philbin has an easy solution to that problem.
"From an offensive perspective, more points," the coach said.
The Dolphins have been averaging 5.2 yards per rush, second in the league. But they have been running only 37 percent of time, lower than league average.
"I don't think we're necessarily going to be 50-50 all of the time," Philbin said. "If you're running the ball consistently well and managing the sticks pretty well, that's a good place to be."
RUN, RUN, RUN: The Raiders have improved on stopping the run, but now they need to get their own rush going.
"Obviously we haven't' started as fast as we would like. That's something that we constantly preach around here, getting off to a fast start and being able to execute early in the game," Allen said.
"Not only getting off to a fast start in the first half, but being able to get off to a fast start in the second half of the football game. We've kind of done that a little bit in spurts on both sides of the ball, but we haven't done it as consistently as we need to."
LONDON CALLING: The Dolphins are playing in London for the second time since the NFL started staging regular-season games in Britain, while the Raiders are on the island for the first time.
Miami lost to the New York Giants 13-10 in 2007.
There are two more games scheduled to be played later this season at Wembley, the home of England's national soccer team. The Atlanta Falcons will face the Detroit Lions on Oct. 26 and the Jacksonville Jaguars will play the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 9.
Whether or not a franchise could eventually be based in London is still on many people's mind.
"I definitely see the difficulties in it, but I do think it's just bound to happen," Raiders defensive lineman Justin Tuck said. "The NFL is branding and reaching out and it seems like every other sport is doing the same as well. So I do agree with you in the fact that it's kind of more when it will happen, but there are a lot of questions and a lot of things that have be solidified before it does."
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