Taylor, Davis Looking To Turn The Corner

Posted Aug 1, 2013

Young defensive backs making an impression.

The Dolphins were running an 11-on-11 play during practice Thursday when Jamar Taylor provided coverage on a receiver running a crossing pattern. Just as the ball got to the receiver, Will Davis emerged from the other side to knock the ball loose.

That one play, however insignificant in the grand scheme of things, showcased the rookie cornerbacks the Dolphins selected in the second and third rounds of the 2013 NFL draft.

“It was definitely a nice little sight,” Taylor said after practice. “Hopefully next time we can get the ball, though.”

As it turned out, it was one of the few times during practice when Davis didn’t get the ball when given the opportunity.

Davis unquestionably was the star of practice on Thursday as he finished with three interceptions, knocked the ball away from a receiver after a completion and broke up a few other passes.

He was so impressive, in fact, he said Head Coach Joe Philbin gave him some praise when he addressed the team after practice.

“I haven’t watched every play of Will Davis, but he had his hand on the ball eight times today maybe,” Philbin said. “That leads me to believe he had a very good practice. That’s one of the measuring sticks we were looking for in our defensive guys, guys who can make a play on the ball. I thought he had a good practice. I’m sure there’s a lot of technique things he needs to work on and we’ll take a look at that. But I was pleased with how he played today.”

The practice continued a nice little run for Davis, who has been one of the biggest playmakers on the Dolphins defense for the past few days.

Davis ended practice on Sunday with an interception in a two-minute drill, and followed up with a pick in the end zone on the last play of the intrasquad scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium Monday night.

“The whole time we were scrimmaging we were doing good things on defense, but at the same time I just wanted to get some action somehow, someway,” Davis said. “Sometimes opportunities just don’t come your way and then, sure enough, at the end, it just opened up and I just dove, got it and it felt great, especially to end on a note like that. You go home that night just smiling. It definitely felt good.

‘Everything is starting to click. Everything is definitely starting to click. When the game starts to slow down, you definitely can start making plays. I’m just going out there and been making plays.”

Davis’ play in recent days hasn’t gone unnoticed by some of the veterans in the secondary.

“He’s definitely making a lot of plays,” said fellow cornerback Brent Grimes. “He had a great day. He’s doing his thing.”

While Taylor hasn’t been able to make the eye-catching plays that Davis has, he took a big step on Wednesday night when he returned to practice for the first time in more than a week.

Probably no one was as happy to see Taylor back in action as Davis, who’s not only a draft classmate but also Taylor’s roommate during training camp.

“When I see that kid, I’m like, yeah, it’s good to have him back,” Davis said. “I just don’t want him to mess anything up, but he was out there and he said he felt good, so I was definitely excited.

“He’s smart. He’s not just wasting time. He’s in the books every day, watching film every day. Even though he’s not watching himself, he’s in there watching film. He’s going to start making plays, I guarantee it.”

For Taylor, though, things have to follow a steady progression.

He also has a pretty good feel for what he and Davis need to show the coaches to earn playing time in a cornerback group that includes Grimes, Richard Marshall, Nolan Carroll and Dimitri Patterson, four players with NFL starting experience.

“We’ve just got to come out here and play fast,” Taylor said. “Play fast and know what you’re doing. If you do those two things, the film won’t lie. Coaches go up there and evaluate. Just don’t make the same mistake every day. Once the coaches see progress, that’s how you stand out.”

While Taylor has practiced only a few times so far in training camp, Philbin says he’s happy with his progress.

“He’s got good quickness,” Philbin said. “He wants to be out there. He’s a quick learner. We’re progressing him, not just throwing him in there for 70 reps or anything like that, but I think he’s doing well.”

Davis and Taylor are just three days away from their first NFL game action, the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game.

“We’re excited,” Davis said. “We can definitely tell South Florida the whole big change, the new jerseys, everything, the new logo, there’s definitely a big change and to be that rookie class to begin that, all the rookies are excited about that. And having an extra game, we’re excited about that, of course.

“At the same time, to be in your first NFL game, preseason or not, everybody is excited about that. Everybody is going out there, we’re going to get a lot of playing time, we know that, a lot of reps. But we’re excited. Our boys are going to be watching, our families are going to be watching. All the rookies are excited about that.”