Duper misses practice but makes flight
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mark Duper missed practice yesterday, but he showed up in time to make the team's flight to Baltimore.
Duper was not excused from the workout and did not notify the Dolphins he would miss it.
Two brothers and his mother have a 19-acre farm in south-central Louisiana, 100 miles west of New Orleans, in the path of Hurricane Andrew. Duper had expressed concern for his family Tuesday.
When the Dolphins landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, coach Don Shula confirmed that Duper made the flight.
"I did not talk to him about why he missed practice," said Shula. "I'll talk to him later. It's not an injury problem so he should be able to play."
Duper was not available.
Moments after arriving, Shula voiced the sentiment of the entire team when he said, "It's nice to be here. It's nice to be anywhere after the last few days down in Florida. There were prospects of a direct hit, but the storm missed us by 10 or 15 miles. Our families were able to get through it, and we're hoping that South Florida recovers.
"It was a devastating storm."
Taking precautions that their lengthy injury list doesn't worsen, the Dolphins left several injured players behind when they departed Miami, including six starters.
"A lot of guys are going to be kept out as a precaution," said Shula, who probably will play quarterback Dan Marino only in the first half. "We're hoping if they have to miss this game, they're going to be ready for the opener."
Left behind were running back Mark Higgs (thigh), linebacker John Offerdahl (hamstring), safety Harvis Williams (knee), wide receiver Mark Clayton (neck), tackle Richmond Webb (toe), cornerback Troy Vincent (hamstring) and quarterback Scott Secules (chest). All but Secules are starters.
Because of the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, the Dolphins want to move their season opener Sept. 6 against the New England Patriots to Foxboro, Mass.
"With the large-scale damage this region has suffered, we are aware of the difficulties our fans would face attending a game here in a little more than a week from now," the Dolphins said in a statement.
If the opener is moved, the Dolphins' game at New England on Dec. 27 would be switched to Miami. The teams are consulting the NFL about the change.
The Dolphins also announced that NFL Charities has approved a $100,000 grant to provide disaster relief in the area.
The Saints opened the Superdome to players and their families and team officials Tuesday night as Andrew swept toward Louisiana.
The Dolphins did likewise Sunday night when Andrew approached South Florida. Joe Robbie Stadium housed 20 players when the storm hit.
On the receiving end
With wide receivers Floyd Turner, Quinn Early and Wesley Carroll nursing injuries and not expected to play tonight, the Saints will have an untested corps of receivers on the field. When quarterback Bobby Hebert goes to his four wide-outs, he could be looking at rookies Marcus Dowdell and Torrance Small, one-year player Nate Bolton and two-year veteran Pat Newman.