EYES ON ARMSTRONG

Trace Armstrong left the Dolphins last offseason, but he certainly hasn't been forgotten around the Dolphins locker room.

The veteran defensive end was a mentor to Jason Taylor, who is enjoying the best season of his career. And the two remain close.

"He called me last night," Taylor said Wednesday. "I'm not calling him back. I'm going to make him sweat it out a little bit. I'll call him later on in the week.

"We all know how good of a ballplayer Trace is and the things he did down here. We miss him, but he's a Raider now and he's the enemy. I won't get a chance to see him at all, he won't be on any special teams or anything, so hopefully Todd (Wade) will knock his head off."

All kidding aside, Taylor is grateful for the tutelage he got from Armstrong during his first four seasons in the NFL.

"Trace taught me a lot," Taylor said. "From Day One, Trace has really been a big influence on my career. He taught me how to be a pro. He taught me a lot of things about the game, little nuances of the game that you don't really think about when you are a young guy. When you are young, you're athletic and all that, you just run around and try to make plays.

"He taught me how to break the game down and see different things. He's taught me so much, I'd be forever talking about how much he has meant to a lot of guys on this team, but he's gone now. So the hell with him and hopefully we'll beat him on Sunday."

Because of injuries along the Oakland defensive line, Armstrong has been playing every down lately, something he hasn't done in a few years.

Armstrong came back this season after sustaining a torn Achilles tendon in 2001 and he really started looking like the Armstrong the Dolphins remember a few weeks ago.

Lining up at left defensive end, he will present a tough challenge Sunday for right tackle Todd Wade.

"He's doing a great job," Wade said. "He's an intelligent player. He's going to do everything he can to get to the quarterback. But I feel pretty confident myself."


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