A Tale Of Two Cornerbacks

The Dolphins have some high hopes for the two cornerbacks they took in the first two rounds of the 2009 draft, but a trend continued in Monday night's preseason opener where one guy once again impressed while the other again provided some cause for concern.

Sean Smith earned the starting job opposite veteran Will Allen for the preseason opener against Jacksonville, and he did nothing in the game to make the coaches remove him from the starting lineup.

Vontae Davis is the higher pick, but he came off the bench against the Jaguars and he did nothing to inspire confidence.

We'll start with Smith, who came up with one of the two interceptions for the defense in the 12-9 victory and also showed his coverage ability in the first half by staying step for step with former Pro Bowl wideout Torry Holt on a play that ended with the Dolphins sacking quarterback David Garrard.

From the start of OTA sessions, it's been Smith who has been the better cover corner, and that trend continued in the team's intrasquad scrimmage, when he also had an interception, and in the preseason opener.

On his interception against Jacksonville, Smith read the route so well that he's the one who looked like the intended receiver on a deep route to the end zone.

And once the ball was in the air, Smith again showed the tremendous ball skills evident of a guy who was a star wide receiver in high school.

Smith looks like right now like a guy who's going to get beat -- like every cornerback is going to beat -- but who also is going to come up with his share of interceptions.

As for Davis, this wasn't pretty.

His bad night started on punt coverage after the Jaguars returner called for a fair catch and caught the ball. For some reason, Davis decided to make some contact with the return, and even though it wasn't a big hit, it cost the Dolphins 15 unnecessary yards.

Davis also had his problems in coverage, giving up a couple of completions and also committing a pass-interference penalty on third down to keep a Jacksonville drive alive.

One of Davis' assets is his strength and his presence in run defense, but we didn't get to see that against Jacksonville. What we saw, and what we've seen a lot of since camp began, is a guy who looks unimpressive in coverage.

Clearly, it's still very early in the process, but what we've seen so far doesn't mean that Smith will be a star cornerback and Davis will be a bust, but in the early going Smith has outplayed Davis — and by a large margin.

The other player involved in the battle for the starting job at right cornerback is free acquisition Eric Green, and he was picked on quite a bit against Jacksonville.

This was not the type of performance Green needed after what has been a rather uneven showing at training camp.

Green's signing in the offseason wasn't considered a major coup by many observers, but even then Green has been a disappointment with his play so far.

There's still a lot of football to be played before the start of the regular season at Atlanta, but if there were any doubts before Monday night, it's now apparent that right now Sean Smith clearly is the second-best cornerback on this team.


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