|Banged-up Jason Taylor chasing Dolphins' durability record|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 19 December 2007 12:41|
He's off his crutches, which the Miami Dolphins would have to view as a good sign.
He's also off the field, a truly rare occurrence for the Pro Bowl defensive end.
Taylor matched a team record by playing in his 128th straight game last weekend, and could break Hall of Fame center Jim Langer's mark Sunday if he gets on the field when the Dolphins (1-13) visit the unbeaten New England Patriots (14-0). He missed practice Wednesday and, while he's far from being ruled out, his availability is still in question.
``He's played 128,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ``Why don't we tell him to take the day off?''
It might happen.
Taylor tore his left plantar fascia - an injury that brings pain to the bottom of the foot and heel - during last weekend's win over the Baltimore Ravens. He's had a similar injury in his right foot in the past and continued to play, but neither he nor Dolphins coach Cam Cameron sounded absolutely certain that Taylor would be available against the Patriots.
``We'll see. I didn't make it today, obviously, but we'll see,'' Taylor said. ``We'll see what is in store for tomorrow or Sunday.''
He was among four Dolphins to miss practice Wednesday: Linebacker Channing Crowder was returning home from a knee scope in Birmingham, Ala., linebacker Joey Porter was held out with a shoulder problem and defensive tackle Keith Traylor missed the workout with a bad knee.
But Taylor was doing the off-the-field things required to get ready to face the Patriots juggernaut.
``He's involved in all the preparation,'' Cameron said. ``It's something that he's had before and he's optimistic about it.''
Taylor's status was only part of the buzz around Dolphins camp Wednesday.
After a week filled with talk about owner H. Wayne Huizenga's possible plan to sell at least part of the franchise, here came another bit of news: Bill Parcells may be on the way.
Parcells turned down an offer from the Atlanta Falcons to become their head of football operations, and with that announcement came word that he was weighing an offer to join the Dolphins. Miami officials did not comment, but some players were immediately intrigued.
``Somebody like the Big Tuna, regardless of who's in the front office or who's not, brings a lot of respect and a lot of credibility with him,'' defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday said.
Taylor has plenty of respect and credibility, too.
He was named to his sixth Pro Bowl team Tuesday, a testament to how he's thought of around the league even in a dismal season for the Dolphins.
And clearly, Belichick wasn't surprised whatsoever to see Taylor on that Pro Bowl list.
Belichick was predictably tightlipped about a number of topics Wednesday, including New England's pursuit of a perfect season and how much - or how little - the Patriots' starters will play in the final two games before playoffs begin.
But when asked about Taylor, Belichick offered copious praise, calling the streak ``incredible.''
``He's a tremendous football player,'' Belichick said. ``I have a great deal of respect for Jason. He's a guy that we, since I've been here, have spent as much time game-planning for as any player we've faced. He's a difficult guy to stop and even when you have him blocked, you still don't feel totally comfortable.''
Miami was the last team to beat New England in the regular season, a 21-0 shutout at home last Dec. 10.
Taylor's fairly certain the Patriots - who've averaged 37 points in the 17 regular-season games since, plus beat Miami 49-28 earlier this season - haven't forgotten that one quite yet.
``Coach Belichick will probably bring it up to them,'' Taylor said. ``They got us pretty good earlier this year, so they've kind of already gotten revenge for the shutout last year. They're rolling. They're a good team. They know what they are. I don't think they'll sleep on us at all and underestimate us.''
Taylor says there's no pressure on the Dolphins, which makes plenty of sense.
And while the Patriots aren't even acknowledging it, the pursuit of a perfect season has to be creeping into their psyche on some level.
So there could be some symmetry at play in Foxborough on Sunday. If the Dolphins find a way to pull off a shocker, they would also preserve Miami's 1972 season as the only perfect campaign in NFL history.
But the way Taylor sees it, that would just be a bonus.
``We're trying to win a game for ourselves nowadays,'' Taylor said. ``For our fans today, for our owner today, for the people that are in this locker room today. If it happens to work out that way and they preserve their streak, then that's great.''