Taylor back on Dolphins’ side of rivalry with Jets

Jason Taylor expects to hear a familiar sound when he walks out

of the tunnel at MetLife Stadium on Monday night.

And, it won’t be warm, friendly cheers.

”I’m sure I’ll be booed,” the Miami Dolphins linebacker said.

”I was booed for a lot of years in that stadium or in that

town.”

That’s because Taylor was perhaps the most disliked opposing

player among New York Jets fans, and the feeling was certainly

mutual. But in an unexpected twist to one of the NFL’s top

rivalries, Taylor signed with the Jets in the 2010 offseason and

fans gradually embraced him as one of their own. He helped New York

reach the AFC championship game.

Now he’s back behind enemy lines – in Jets’ fans minds – and

will try to help the winless Dolphins (0-4) send the struggling

Jets (2-3) to their fourth straight loss Monday night.

”I tried to do my best to make them cheer last year, but being

back on the other side of the coin now I’m sure I’ll get my fair

share of boos, which is to be expected,” he said. ”They’re Jets

fans and they should be and they’re very passionate about their

team and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

Taylor is the NFL’s active career sacks leader and eighth on the

all-time list with 133 1/2, including one this season. He’s far

from the dominant force he once was, when he was sent quarterbacks

to the turf in bunches, but he had his moments in his one season in

green and white.

”I’ll say this,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said, ”we would’ve loved

to have had Jason back.”

Moments after the Jets lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the

AFC championship game, Taylor fought back tears as he talked about

his time in New York and getting that far in the playoffs for the

first time. He had put aside his hatred for the Jets and their fans

– he once called them ”classless” – for a Super Bowl run. Taylor

also acknowledged he didn’t know if he would ever take the field

again.

New York appeared to help make that decision when it released

him in March. But Taylor still wanted to play, and was hoping for

another year with the Jets, who also had interest in bringing him

back, but at a lesser salary. Taylor, who had five sacks with the

Jets, headed back home to Miami for his third stint with the

Dolphins a few months later.

”He was great, a real professional about the way he went about

his business, about the way he interacted with other players on the

team,” Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said. ”He was respectful

with the trainers and equipment staff. He was the ultimate pro. We

loved having him, and it’s going to be fun to face him.”

Sanchez took the high road after Taylor recently said he thought

Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne had more overall talent than the

Jets’ signal caller. Sanchez said that’s what Taylor has to say; he

has to support his own guy.

Taylor did offer this about Sanchez: ”He’s a darn good

quarterback.”

Ryan often praised Taylor last season and talked up his

everlasting ability to rush the passer, something the Jets could

use now.

”I thought Jason was great for this football team, his presence

on the field and in the locker room, as well,” Ryan said. ”He’s a

class act all the way, so I don’t regret signing Jason Taylor here

for one second.”

Even though Taylor has firsthand knowledge of how Ryan runs his

defense?

”We’re not just a ‘This is the defense we run each week,”’

Ryan said. ”But I’m sure he can help some.”

No doubt about it, according to Dolphins linebacker Cameron

Wake.

”Him going away to an unnamed team and having him come back,

the wisdom is something you can’t get anywhere,” Wake said. ”You

can’t coach that. It’s invaluable.”

For years, Taylor talked about his dislike for the Jets and

their fans, but he doesn’t hate them anymore. He said his one

season changed his perspective on the rivalry, not that his

approach on the field will be any different, of course.

”I’m not going to play any easier because I know them and am

friends with them,” Taylor said. ”They aren’t going to take it

easy on me, either. I’m sure they want to make me regret not going

there or whatever. It’ll be a fun game, a game that both teams need

to win. It’ll be a typical New York-Miami heated, intense

game.”

And there’s plenty on the line with this one, too. The Jets are

a team in near-crisis as players have taken jabs at each other in

the locker room, with wide receiver Santonio Holmes calling out the

offensive line for not giving Sanchez enough time to throw, and

guard Brandon Moore saying Holmes’ comments were out of line and

have a ”fragmenting effect” on the locker room.

Some Jets added it’s a ”must-win” game, even just six weeks

into the season.

For the Dolphins, they’re trying to avoid their second 0-5 start

in five seasons and will have Matt Moore at quarterback with Henne

out for the season with a separated shoulder.

Coach Tony Sparano might feel the pressure intensify with

another loss; some folks already are calling for his job. Wide

receiver Brandon Marshall said he’s going to show more passion,

with his goal to be ejected in the second quarter after maybe

getting into a fight with the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie or Bart

Scott.

Yep, just another ho-hum Dolphins-Jets game on Monday night.

”It’s not desperation,” Taylor said. ”There’s no reason to be

desperate. You start being desperate, you do things outside of

yourself and you start to take too many risks. You end up making

mistakes because you’re playing with desperation. Have that sense

of urgency and, trust me, we fully anticipate that they will have

that sense of urgency in focus, and we’re going to have the same

thing.”

AP Sports Writer Steven Wine in Davie, Fla., contributed to this

report.