Zach Tackles Issues

Linebacker Zach Thomas has yet to play in the preseason, but that might change Saturday night when the Dolphins play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At least that's what Thomas, as he indicated Wednesday morning when he addressed the media. Here is what Thomas had to say.

Q. Have you been told whether you will play in the third preseason game?

Thomas: "No, I haven't, but I wasn't told the last couple games until the night before the day of the game, so I'll just wait and see. I've been getting a lot of reps in practice, getting my rhythm and timing down. That is the biggest key."

Would you prefer to play?

Thomas: "I'd like to get some plays in there, but it's not my decision. To get in there, even if you start the first game, you might be a little sluggish, whatever, but still you want to keep yourself fresh for the whole season and things like that. I don't feel like I'm going to be sluggish. I'm getting all the reps in practice, and it's not a big factor to me. But I'm getting ready, preparing for this game. We just started today on Tampa Bay."

Q. What are your impressions of the linebackers' performance during the first two preseason games?

Thomas: "They've done a great job. It was exciting because we've got a lot of young guys in there, and they've stepped up. They haven't had too much thrown at them. It's been pretty basic, but they did a good job and it's been impressive. It's good that we have a lot of depth and a lot of guys that can make plays. But it's a whole different level once you start the season. No one can get caught up in the preseason, we know that. It's a whole another level, and we'll find out who the playmakers are once September comes around."

Q. Do you think the third preseason game is important as a dress rehearsal for the regular season?

Thomas: "It's important, just to get out and get the feel of the game and get comfortable. Even with Joey (Porter), we can get comfortable playing side-by-side and knowing the calls because there are a lot of communication calls we have out there. Like I said, hopefully we go in fresh because it's a long season. Hopefully we keep everybody healthy through this third game and start the season."

Q. When was the last time you hit another player and took him to the ground?

Thomas: "The last time? I think probably yesterday, or the day before. I'm a guy that takes guys to the ground, and they are always yelling at me for taking guys to the ground. But that's football, if you've got pads on. In practice I'm a little overaggressive, but that's just my mentality."

After the 2-0 start to the preseason, can you envision how strong the defense will be in the regular season

Thompas: "Not really because you always see the best teams, they always start out 0-4. Some of the worst teams start out 4-0, so you can't really project. You can see guys that can make plays in the games, but because it's a simple game-plan both sides of the ball, you really don't know how guys react when it comes to show-time. You really can't project in the preseason. That's why we all know that, we know we need to get a lot better. We know that there are going to be all kinds of ways for teams to attack us because they're not throwing their book at us in the preseason. We know the start of the season is when they are going to start to throw their book at us. We take that, just trying to get better week-to-week, but it's good to see that guys went out there and competed hard and did well."

Q. How would you assess the performance of the defensive line so far?

Thomas: "I think they've done a good job. That's the big question mark on guys behind our first team; how are they going to step up? I think they did real well. We lost a lot of defensive line starters and backups, so we don't know how our depth is going to come into play. They've stepped up, and hopefully they keep that going. It all starts with our defensive line with this defense."

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