Question: Has first-round pick Vontae Davis lived up to expectations since being selected with 25th pick overall?
Alain Poupart: It's impossible to talk about Vontae Davis without mentioning Sean Smith, the Dolphins' second of two second-round picks in April. It was Smith, and not Davis, who started alongside veteran Will Allen in the first six games of the season, although Davis did rotate with Smith in several games. When Allen went down with a knee injury in the Oct. 25 loss to New Orleans, Davis stepped into the starting lineup to give the Dolphins an all-rookie starting corner tandem. Davis has been very impressive with his tackling all season and he also is tied for the team lead with two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown against Buffalo. Randy Moss put up huge numbers last Sunday while matched up one-on-one against Davis most of the game, but Davis made his share of plays in the game and, besides, it's not like Moss hasn't burned other DBs before. Bottom line, Davis looks like a promising cornerback.
Alain Poupart: The true leader of the defense is nose tackle Jason Ferguson, who's the second-oldest player on the team behind Taylor and also came over from Dallas at the same time as Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano. Porter, Taylor and Ferguson all were elected team captains by their teammates this season, along with quarterback Chad Pennington, but Ferguson probably is the leader of the defense.
Question: How important of a role do Taylor and Porter play in regards to teaching the younger players on this team?
Alain Poupart: Somebody would have to be in the meeting rooms or locker room on a regular basis to really know how much interaction there is between Porter and Taylor and younger players like Cameron Wake, Erik Walden and Charlie Anderson. Both Porter and Taylor have been around a long time and have solid credentials, so there's no question the younger players will pick their brain on a regular basis, but how much of a mentoring role is being played is tough to tell.
Question: Randy Starks is second on the team with 4.5 sacks this season. Talk a little about Starks and why he has found success this season.
Alain Poupart: Actually, Starks turned in a productive season in a backup role last season as a backup to veteran Vonnie Holliday. After the Dolphins released Holliday in the offseason, it was widely assumed that second-year player Phillip Merling, a second-round pick in '08, would take over as the starter but Starks beat him out with a better performance in training camp and the preseason. Starks is merely making the most of more playing time and the truth is he's been the Dolphins' most consistent defensive player this season.
Question: Yeremiah Bell holds the team record for sacks by a Dolphins defensive back with 7.5. What type of an impact has he made this season?
Alain Poupart: Actually, his play has been spotty. He was tremendous in the first half of the New Orleans game and leads the team in tackles, but the truth is he hasn't made a major impact. Bell's best asset is his tackling and his run support, but he hasn't made plays in the passing game. Truth is, the Dolphins haven't gotten many plays out of any of their safeties in pass defense.