NFL sacks leader Joey Porter traded taunts last Sunday - and into this week - with Denver receiver Brandon Marshall. But the Miami Dolphins motormouth said he won't be swapping barbs with Seattle Seahawks tackle Walter Jones.
``No, Walter is a super veteran,'' Porter said. ``He is not a guy who is going to talk to you, and he is not the type of guy who wants to play that game. He doesn't waste his energy. He goes and gets serious and plays football. I played him a few times and never really got a word out of him and never really tried to get a word out him. We just played.''
Porter played for Pittsburgh when he last faced off against Jones in the Super Bowl three years ago.
Jones said he's not interested in trading insults, but said Porter's trash-talking ranks with the best.
``You can't win that battle. That's what he lives for,'' Jones said. ``The game's too long to try to go back and forth with words.''
pick of the draft, the St. Louis Rams were accused of reaching a bit to fill a need. Not anymore, not with the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long quickly hitting his stride.
Long leads rookies with four sacks, including two at New England on Oct. 26, and has shown an ability to beat offensive linemen one-on-one. His first career sack came in the home opener against the Giants in Week 2 and he also had one sack against Buffalo.
Last week he had four tackles against the Cardinals, three of them solo stops, although Kurt Warner was able to elude him.
``It has been a little easier than I thought,'' Long said. ``At this point, if you would have told me that I would have made a couple of plays I wouldn't have believed you.
``It's good to make a couple plays and get that under your belt.''
L.T. THE TUTOR: Vernon Gholston has the right jersey number. Now, he hopes spending some time with another No. 56 rubs off on the playing field.
The New York Jets rookie linebacker, struggling to fit in with the team's 3-4 defensive scheme, had dinner with Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor last week to discuss how he became perhaps the game's most dominant pass-rushing outside linebacker.
hat was really it,'' Gholston said.
Gholston reached out to Taylor through his financial adviser, and the former Giants star agreed to meet with the wide-eyed rookie. Gholston, the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, has just nine tackles this season - including six on special teams - and no sacks.
Taylor, of course, was so dominant pressuring quarterbacks from the edge he has been widely credited with making the sack an official statistic.
``I was not really looking for him to coach me in a way,'' Gholston said. ``It was more just asking him about playing the game, playing the position, and what to look for, the mentality to have, just general questions.''
Gholston said he was eager to sit down with Taylor, who offered to help him in the future.
``He told me basically the general stuff, what everybody tells you, but I guess hearing it from him is more reassurance,'' he said. ``Just take your time, learn the defense, keep working hard and it'll come.''
NO SMILING IN FOOTBALL?: Put Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth down among those who don't like to see opposing players smiling during a game. He made his feelings on the topic known when asked if he sacked Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman when the two were playing in college.
rback played for Florida and he was with the Tennessee Volunteers. And he said Grossman did something crazy.
``He's always smiling. He's like a Hines Ward, just always smiling. It kind of bothered me. I guess it's fun to be playing this game, but gosh don't smile. It's something that just bothers me,'' Haynesworth said.
Haynesworth may get the chance to try and knock that smile off Grossman's face Sunday when the Titans (8-0) visit Chicago (5-3). Haynesworth already has matched his career high with six sacks this season.
STRETCH RUNS: A .500 record or even a losing mark halfway through the season does not necessarily mean an NFL team's postseason chances are gone.
Indeed, two teams that were no better than 4-4 at the midway mark during this decade wound up in the Super Bowl. One of them, the 2001 Patriots, won the whole thing.
And a year later, the Raiders were 4-4 before finishing 11-5 and taking the AFC title. They lost to Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl.
Since 2000, 19 teams have gone 4-4 and one went 3-5 (2002 Jets), yet made the playoffs. Just a year ago, San Diego was 4-4, wound up 11-5 and lost to New England for the AFC championship.
like the Raiders, before falling in Oakland with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line.
And another oddity: five of the six AFC playoffs participants that year were 4-4 or 3-5 to start the year.
Right now, six teams are 4-4: Green Bay, Minnesota, New Orleans, Denver (good enough for the AFC West lead), Indianapolis and Miami.
LEBEAU'S LEGACY: The NFL's current sacks statistics prove Dick LeBeau's value as a defensive coordinator.
The league leader in sacks is Miami's Joey Porter, who developed his skills playing on LeBeau's defense in Pittsburgh. Two others near the top of the rankings, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, are currently with the Steelers.
In fact, four of the top five sackmasters are linebackers in 3-4 defenses: Porter, Harrison, Woodley and Dallas' DeMarcus Ware. Atlanta's John Abraham, tied for second with Harrison and Ware, often played linebacker in a 3-4 when he was with the New York Jets.
Defensive ends, who often lead in sacks, show up on the leaders' list at No. 6 with Justin Tuck of the Giants. Right behind him are three other DEs: Mario Williams of Houston, Jared Allen of Minnesota and Shaun Ellis of the Jets, along with Kevin Williams of the Vikings, a defensive tackle.
Louis, Dennis Waszak Jr. in New York, Steven Wine in Miami and Teresa M. Walker in Nashville contributed to this story.

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