Will Dolfans recognize Jason Taylor?

May, 18, 2009
5/18/09
9:10
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Jason Taylor will slip into his familiar, aqua-and-orange duds again Monday. He'll wear his No. 99 after a year-long costume party with the Washington Redskins.

But will it really be like old times?

Probably not.

Taylor still has the potential to be highly productive, but his days as an every-down defender appear to be over. The defensive game plan certainly won't revolve around him anymore. He almost certainly won't play his usual position on the left side.

Last week, the Dolphins added Taylor as a situational complement to outside linebacker Joey Porter. The roster already included last year's starter, Matt Roth, and intriguing newcomer Cameron Wake.

Kim Bokamper, who played nine seasons at outside linebacker and defensive end for Miami, claimed Taylor will make an impact on the field. But there could be a significant adjustment when it comes to his leadership role.

"Jason's a pretty good fit with this team," said Bokamper, a local sportscaster. "The only thing that would concern me about Jason is he could be coming into the locker room in a situation where maybe he's not a starter.

"It's a tough thing to come in and all of a sudden be a third-down guy when you're used to being an every-down player. I just wonder how he would react to that."

Sources close to Taylor told me before he signed with the Dolphins on Wednesday that he was amenable to this situation, that he understood he would have to earn his snaps.

But back in March, one of his closest friends, Vonnie Holliday, predicted such an arrangement wouldn't work out. I spoke to Holliday the day he and Taylor both were released.

"It wouldn't be easy," Holliday said. "I think what Joey Porter did this past year makes it hard. You're talking about two guys who are the same player in that position on the field in that defense. They would be hard-pressed to come to Joey Porter and say 'We're going to bring J.T. back.'"

Bokamper doesn't see a conflict.

"Let's say Joey got 15 sacks and Jason got five. I don't think that would bother Jason," Bokamper said. "As long as the team's winning it will be fine.

"But I think where it would hurt Jason from a pride standpoint is if Joey's playing 60 plays a game, Matt's playing 40 plays a game, Cameron Wake is playing and Jason's getting half a dozen plays a game.

"Standing on the sideline would hurt him. When you've been a starter your whole career, the worst thing that can happen to you is to be that guy standing on the sideline, becoming a cheerleader."

Bokamper views the risk more than worthy of the reward.

"You put Joey Porter on one side and Jason on the other side and it's a pretty daunting task to try and stop both those guys if Jason is still close to the Jason he was when he left," Bokamper said.

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