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Dolphins offense fun to run, fun to watch

MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins refer to the play as "paint-pump," and when the call was made to run it, quarterback Trent Green thought he had misunderstood the signal from the sideline.

"When the play came in, I gave the signal to repeat it," Green said. "I was surprised -- `Are you serious?"'

Coach Cam Cameron was indeed serious. And so Green took the snap, held the ball out behind his back with his left hand and faked a pass with his right. Jesse Chatman took the Statue of Liberty-style handoff and ran past the baffled Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11 yards for a touchdown.

"Everybody was an actor," Chatman said. "We should get a Grammy on that play."

Or even an Oscar. The razzle-dazzle borrowed from Boise State was the most memorable moment in the Dolphins' 31-28 exhibition loss Saturday to Tampa Bay.

But there were other offensive highlights. A drive against the Bucs' first-team defense lasted 18 plays -- which would be a Dolphins record in the regular season -- while consuming more than nine minutes and producing a touchdown.

Rookie John Beck threw for 162 yards and two scores in the second half, and rookies Ted Ginn Jr. and Lorenzo Booker also made notable contributions to help the Dolphins achieve their highest point total in a preseason game since 2003.

The result was that rarest NFL commodity: an entertaining exhibition game.

"It's fun to see us getting better every week," Green said.

Miami's offensive production indeed was the best yet under Cameron. Unlike predecessors Don Shula, Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wannstedt and Nick Saban, Cameron came to Miami with an offensive background. Saturday's performance inspired hope for a unit that has been the weak link during the Dolphins' current five-year playoff drought.

Even if the Dolphins aren't better this season, they should be more fun to watch -- even from the sidelines. Teammates erupted when Chatman scored on the play Boise State made famous in last season's Fiesta Bowl.

"We just put it in a few days ago," Green said. "We were all a little surprised in the huddle when it came up, but it worked, and I think everybody enjoyed it. When we got to the sideline everybody was hooting and hollering."

Cameron's priorities this preseason are to avoid injuries and emphasize fundamentals. The Dolphins have used only a small percentage of their playbook, and they devoted little attention to the running game against the Bucs while throwing 45 passes.

Cameron describes his preseason play-calling approach as vanilla, but Saturday's success will still whet the appetite of Dolphins' fans.

After Green's first pass was intercepted for a touchdown, the offense quickly rebounded with its marathon march. Green went 7-for-9 during the drive, including a fourth-down completion to Ginn and a 1-yard touchdown throw to new tight end David Martin.

"Most offenses, if you are out there for 18 plays, you find a way to self-destruct," Cameron said. "It was nice."

Ginn, the first-round pick, caught two other passes. Booker, a third-round choice, made six receptions for 41 yards. And second-rounder Beck twice rallied Miami from behind in a seesaw second half.

"John continues to handle himself very well with the situations he has been placed in," Green said. "It has been a good preseason for him."

Beck will likely see considerable action again Thursday in the final exhibition game at New Orleans, but none of the offensive or defensive starters are expected to play.

That doesn't rule out another trick play from Cameron, part of his effort to keep the game fun.

"If you play tight, you have no chance to win," he said. "We don't want to be silly loose; we want to be focused on what we're doing. But guys are enjoying themselves."

The regular-season opener is Sept. 9 at Washington. That's when Cameron hopes the fun really begins.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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