DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) — Miami Dolphins second-year cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis are at minicamp to make their case for more playing time in 2014.
Taylor had a frustrating time as a rookie last season after a painful groin injury prevented him from being able to play at his best.
Now healthy, Taylor has his sights set on earning a starting spot opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes.
The former Boise State standout, taken in the second round of the 2013 draft, continued to get the bulk of the snaps with the first-team defense Wednesday with veteran free agent Cortland Finnegan sitting out again. Taylor looked pretty sharp covering starting receivers Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline.
“I think once I realized I was healthy my confidence just came back up,” said Taylor, who had an acrobatic pass breakup of a deep pass thrown by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill during team drills.
“Keeping my faith and maintaining my body weight, that’s what kept me level-headed and that taught me never to take anything for granted.”
Taylor was dealing with a sports hernia and an abductor tear, which is why he struggled to keep his head up as the 2013 season went on.
Taylor relied on his fellow rookie cornerback at the time, Will Davis, to remain positive and credited Davis’ upbeat demeanor for helping through the tough times.
Taylor also earned the respect of Grimes for his work ethic and for the passion he showed during his rehabilitation and continues to lean on him and Finnegan for guidance.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound defensive back lined up in Finnegan’s spot for the second straight day and ran stride for stride with Hartline on one route. His pass breakup came against the much taller Stephen Williams (6-5, 208), as he got inside position and reached the ball at its highest point to knock it down.
“Obviously, he’s healthy and with the second year and more experience comes confidence,” backup quarterback Matt Moore said.
“He’s just a guy you have to kind of keep your eye on. I think he understands the system and what the defense is trying to do and he doesn’t seem to be out of position very often, so he’s playing well.”
For Davis, he has the benefit of having gone through OTAs and minicamp last year so he knew what to expect in terms of the pace of practice, which allows him to help Taylor this time.
The two are competing for the same job, but their friendship continues to blossom.
“I want him to succeed and he wants me to succeed,” Davis said. “Today we were rotating with the ones and we are competitive but we also have a great friendship. We critique each other, too, so it’s a good friendship and we know the competition is still there.”
Asked how he thought the practice went, Coach Joe Philbin said it was hard to tell.
“We didn’t have as many really naturally competitive snaps if that makes any sense. Some of the stuff, like in the end-of-the-game stuff, you have to fabricate a little bit you know what I mean because you want the clock to keep moving in certain situations. I think, overall, well. I just don’t think the sample was as big. Yesterday, we had 103 competitive snaps. I don’t think we were really close to that today,” said Philbin.
Philbin said he’ll be looking for good competitive play during Thursdays’s “Spring Game.”
“We’re going to mix it up and kind of throw the guys into a pot and stir it around. I think we’re looking for guys to communicate potentially with guys maybe that they haven’t lined up next to and gotten a ton of reps. That may happen, it may not. Just see how they respond. We’re going to just kind of put the ball down. We’re going to use special teams,” said Philbin. “Again, we’re not going to be able to gauge live-tackling on certain things, but I think it’ll be good. The main things are the competitive nature, the ability to communicate, the ability to play the calls with everybody kind of off to the side and go from there.”
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