Dolphins Still Need Tempermental Porter

Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter talked up a big game before last week's matchup against the Patriots. Porter pulled no punches in a pregame interview expressing his dislike for the organization he believes cheated against his Stelers teams. Porter completely lost his cool late Sunday when he incurred back-to-back personal fouls and refused to leave the game. He apologized, but what's next?

Dolphins fiery linebacker Joey Porter issued a brief statement Wednesday a few days after he privately apologized to coach Tony Sparano and the team for refusing to leave the field after drawing two penalties within three snaps in Sunday's loss to the Patriots.

"I apologize for not respecting coach Sparano's order to come off the field. I wasn't looking at it that way," Porter said in a brief statement. "I was just staying on the field playing football. I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to the team, not obeying his order. We have a great relationship. ... I listen to all of his orders.

"I wasn't looking at that situation that way. I was just staying on the field playing football. That's just my nature. If I'm not hurt I don't like to come off the field."

So Porter avoided any chance of a suspension for blowing off Sparano and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, and he'll certainly be needed on the field Sunday against the 2-9 St. Louis Rams.

Although the Rams have lost five in a row and have been outscored 143-35 in the last four, Porter will be needed to apply pressure to quarterback Marc Bulger, who practiced Wednesday and appears on track to play despite sustaining a concussion in last week's loss to the Bears.

Porter leads the NFL with 14.5 sacks, while the Rams are ranked 29th in sacks allowed per pass. Bulger has been dumped 30 of the 37 times Rams quarterbacks have gone down.

Porter and inside linebacker Channing Crowder, who was fined but not suspended for his role in a fight with Patriots left tackle Matt Light last week, will both be needed in run support as Rams running back Steven Jackson may return after missing four of the past five games with a thigh injury. The Dolphins' run defense is ranked ninth, but they let six teams gain 112 or more yards so far. Strong safety Yeremiah Bell and Crowder are 1-2 in tackles on Miami with 85 and 83, respectively.

Porter may have a huge obstacle in his path Sunday if perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace returns after a one-game absence with a strained MCL. Rams coach Jim Haslett indicated that Bulger and Pace are more likely to play than Jackson.

The Dolphins secondary was abused last week by quarterback Matt Cassel, who threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns -- all to Randy Moss. Moss and Wes Welker combined for 16 catches for 245 yards. Expect cornerback Will Allen to match up with seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Torry Holt and cornerback Andre' Goodman with blossoming rookie wide receiver Donnie Avery, who leads the Rams with 499 yards on 35 catches (14.3 yards per catch) and two touchdowns.

With the loss of leading receiver Greg Camarillo, who had already topped Miami's leading receiver in 2007 with 55 catches for 613 yards, look for slot receiver Davone Bess to get more looks. Bess is coming off a career-best five-catch, 87-yard effort. Camarillo had 31 catches for first downs, while Ted Ginn Jr. has 28.

"I think he's done some good things in the last couple two, three weeks," Sparano said. "He's caught the ball in the middle of the field, made some big first downs. It was good to see him run after the catch."

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