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Sparano backs Henne as Dolphins starter despite ugly showing

DAVIE, Fla. -- Chad Henne is still the Miami Dolphins' quarterback, even after a rough start to the preseason.

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said Saturday there is no quarterback competition currently going on with his team.

Henne, the NFL's 26th-rated passer last season, remains in charge of the Miami offense despite going 4 for 8 for 78 yards, with two interceptions and one touchdown in the  Dolphins' 28-23 win against the Atlanta Falcons on Friday.

Henne's backup, Matt Moore, was 11 for 18 for 123 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Moore, signed away from the Carolina Panthers, rallied the Dolphins from a 17-0, first-quarter deficit to a 21-20 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Henne, who took 14 snaps on Friday has gotten the majority of work with the first team in practice and the preseason opener.

"I wouldn't say there's a battle right at this second," Sparano said. "To me it takes more than a few outings, a couple of practices, any of those things. I thought Matt did some good things. On the surface it's going to look like Matt did way more good things than Chad, maybe to your eye, but there was enough things in there in Matt's 36 plays that needed to be corrected, as well."

Miami's offense, which ranked 30th in scoring last season, showed well Friday under former Cleveland offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. It made big plays in the passing game (the Dolphins had five completions of at least 17 yards), something that didn't happen last year.

Miami's first-team defense, which ranked sixth last season, struggled, however. It was generally pushed around in the first quarter and allowed a touchdown. But the group was on the field for just 10 plays, according to Sparano, and he doesn't seem worried.

"I think those guys are going to be fine on defense," he said.

On special teams, undrafted rookie Phillip Livas showed some promise with a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Sparano said he liked what he saw from center Mike Pouncey, Miami's first-round pick this year, and defensive end Jared Odrick, the first-round pick from last year who missed 15 games because of a foot injury.

The Dolphins' only strong position battle on either side of the ball is at free safety where incumbent Chris Clemons played 34 plays, and upstart Reshad Jones played 22.

Overall, Sparano seemed pleased with the come-from-behind victory.

"You really have only had seven practices with this group of guys," Sparano said. "At the end of the day it takes a lot longer than seven practices to build continuity within your line or communication among quarterbacks and receivers. A lot longer."

Running back Reggie Bush and wide receiver Brandon Marshall both sat out on Friday, but Sparano said both would likely play next Friday when Miami hosts Carolina.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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