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News » Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-05-08

Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-05-08

Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-05-08
They were wearing shorts and hitting was a no-no, but that didn't stop rookie cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Sean Smith from making memorable first impressions at Dolphins' rookie minicamp.

Davis, the team's first-round pick (25th) out of Illinois known for his cockiness and physical play, snatched an interception in his first practice.

He was labeled with "character" issues by various draft publications for minor run-ins with Illinois coach Ron Zook, who recently shot them down, saying they were just messages being sent to a young player he loves.

"You've got to be confident to play this position because every snap someone's coming after you," said Davis, who was sporting a Mohawk hairdo.

Utah's Smith, a second-rounder (61st), has to overcome baggage as well, all having to do with his 6-foot-3, 214-pound size and critics saying he's too big to play corner. That said, he ran a sub-4.5 40 at camp, but was burned on a long pass to receiver Anthony Armstrong.

"Vontae is real strong, and Smith is real long," said Armstrong, who spent last season on the Dolphins' practice squad. "I call Smith AT&T because he can reach out and touch you. Vontae, when he gets his hands on you, he can control you."

Davis was castigated for knocking receivers down last weekend, but toughness is a trait that Dolphins vice president of football operations Bill Parcells and coach Tony Sparano covet.

"They moved their feet really well during the course of this thing. They competed hard. They are both physical and strong. They got their hands on a couple of footballs and made some plays back here," Sparano said. "Those are some of the things you look for overall in this process. There is an awful lot to learn between now and the time those guys go out there and really play. I think some of the fundamentals and techniques that we use and are going to ask them to play are a little bit different than what they have been used to doing.

"In some situations, you can get by on your skill at the college level. But here we are not going to be able to do that. ... It has been our philosophy a little bit more to have bigger corners. It is hard to find them."

With Andre' Goodman leaving for Denver and Will Allen entering the final year of his contract at 31, the Miami brass is hoping that their two rookie corners can eventually remind fans of Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison.

Smith and Davis know they were drafted to go up against some of the tall, athletic star receivers in the AFC East, such as Randy Moss and Terrell Owens.

"Words don't really mean anything. You have to prove it every day," Smith said. "I thought about it, but at the same time I have to remember that I have 10 other guys with me if I have to guard Moss or Owens. I will be excited, but at the same time, I have to be ready to take them out."

Davis and Smith will battle for a starting job opposite Allen, but also competing for playing time is Eric Green, Jason Allen, Joey Thomas and Will Billingsley. Veteran Nate Jones excelled late last season and will no doubt be on the field in passing situations.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 8, 2009

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Jason Taylor Name: Jason Taylor
Position: DE
Age: 33
Experience: 12 years
College: Akron
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