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Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Pennington wary of Taylor's return to AFC East


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Chad Pennington enjoyed his reprieve.

Finally, in his ninth NFL season, the Miami Dolphins quarterback last year didn't have to account for Jason Taylor's whereabouts.

 Pennington
 Taylor

"I didn't have to worry about him hitting me in the blindside like I have for the previous eight years," Pennington said with a laugh Monday.

Taylor harassed Pennington for years in the AFC East. But the relentless pass-rusher was traded to the Washington Redskins last summer.

Taylor, a free agent, might be headed back to the division. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft twice has declared Taylor is welcome on the roster. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has expressed his fondness for Taylor many times over the years and needs an outside linebacker for his 3-4 defense.

"You just know, 'All right, we've got another game-changer to worry about.' Every team has a game-changer," Pennington said, "and a lot of times it's that defensive end on your left side if you're a right-handed quarterback.

Jason Taylor Sack Victims
Player Sacked
1. Tom Brady 9.5
2. Drew Bledsoe 6.5
3. Rob Johnson 6
4. Peyton Manning 5
4. Chad Pennington 5

"He's a guy that you always have to take into consideration when you're game planning. He makes you change protections. He makes you use more than one guy to block him. He's one of those guys that affects the outcome of a game with one play."

Five of Taylor's 120.5 career sacks are of Pennington. Taylor has tracked down only three quarterbacks more frequently: Tom Brady (9.5), Drew Bledsoe (6.5) and Rob Johnson (6).

Pennington has spent his entire career in the AFC East. He joined the Dolphins last year after being released by the New York Jets, the team that drafted him in 2000. Taylor played for the Dolphins from 1997 through 2007.

"He's obviously made his mark on this league with how he plays this game," Pennington said. "He had a great career while he was down here in Miami.

"I don't know exactly what's going to happen, but I at least had one year where he wasn't on my back. That was kind of nice."