The Dolphins were hoping veteran defensive end Rob Burnett could come in this season and provide the type of pass-rushing presence they got from Trace Armstrong for several years. And while he isn't likely to lead the AFC in sacks, like Armstrong did in 2000, Burnett has started to make his presence felt along the defensive line.

Burnett is coming off his best performance of the season, as he constantly harassed Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe last Sunday.

Burnett finished the game with 1.5 sacks, leading a Dolphins pass rush that collected five sacks.

For Burnett, who recorded his first multi-sack game since late in the 2000 season, it was no big deal.

"I play hard every week, I play my assignments," Burnett said. "Certain weeks there are more plays to be made for each person. If they're there and I'm in the area, I'll help out."

Burnett indeed has been playing hard since the start of the regular season, but it's pretty easy to see he looks a lot more active than he did earlier in the season.

Part of the reason is the fact that he's now fully healthy after battling a hamstring injury during the preseason. And there's also the issue of Burnett becoming more and more comfortable in his new surroundings after spending the last 12 years with the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens franchise.

"It almost looks like he's a little bit quicker now than what he was four weeks ago," said Coach Dave Wannstedt. "He seems more comfortable. He kind of got through the training camp thing and we're into a regular season routine now.

"His play has one up. He practices hard. He's got a lot of similar traits that Trace had: He's an intelligent guy, a great practice guy. I mean, he works at getting better in practice every day and then Sundays are easier for him."

Any help the Dolphins pass rush can get from Burnett will be welcome. The Dolphins defensive line has not been a problem this season, as many had feared, and Burnett certainly has played a role in that.

And it's not unreasonable to expect even bigger things from him in the second half of the season.

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