Part II with Dolphin Insider Alain Poupart

Q)The Dolphins seem to be getting old on defense, how are two key older players holding up, LB Zach Thomas (34) and NT Keith Traylor (38)?

Alain: Zach Thomas is Zach Thomas again, which means he makes a ton of tackles. He went sideline-to-sideline last Sunday to chase down Terrell Owens on a reverse, which was a very impressive play. As for Traylor, the fact that Washington and Dallas both ran for over 160 yards against the Dolphins doesn't speak well for his work, although it's not fair to pin it all on him. But it's fair to say Traylor hasn't appeared to be the run-stopping force he was the past two years.

Q)Is Zach's latest concussion problem career-Alain: If Zach is done, it's purely because of health (concussion) issues. It's certainly not because of performance because in the first two games of the season he has been the team's best player -- by far. Having said that, if he doesn't play Sunday, it's obviously going to affect the defense. Channing Crowder would move from outside linebacker to start in Thomas' spot and Derrick Pope would be inserted in Crowder's spot. But there's no question the defense isn't as good with Thomas out of the lineup.

Q)Jason Taylor was probably the best defensive player in football last year. Has he picked up where he left off?

Alain: Not even remotely close. Taylor has done practically nothing in the first two games. He was credited with a sack against Washington, but that was totally a coverage sack. His not doing anything is a big reason the defense has looked so bad so far because the team needs him to make big plays.

Q)People around the country don't know that much about safety Yeremiah Bell, but losing him to a season-ending injury in the opener, seems like a terrible blow to the Dolphins . . .

Alain: It is because he's the best defensive back on the roster and probably the only playmaker in the secondary. Here's the proof, the Dolphins had eight takeaways in seven games with him coming off the bench last season and that number jumped to 19 in the nine games with him starting. On the other hand, the strength of the Dolphins defense needs to be the front seven, and so far the D-line has been awful.

Q)The Dolphins have a new kicker and punter. How is that working out?

Alain: Very well. Jay Feely looks like a major upgrade over Olindo Mare, who had become too inconsistent and always had issues kicking off the infield dirt at Dolphin Stadium. Feely nailed a 45-yard goal from the dirt last Sunday. As for new punter Brandon Fields, he looks pretty good so far.

Q)Are the Dolphins in trouble attendence-wise of this season continues to head South?

Alain: As has been the case down here for the last several years, it depends on the opponent. Teams like New England and the Jets will draw good crowds; then again, half the stadium will be cheering for the visiting team. That's what happened last Sunday against Dallas. The bottom line is until the Dolphins become contenders again, their home-field advantage is practically nonexistent.

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