Dolphins secondary braces for Favre

BY foxsports • September 15, 2010

At one time, Brett Favre throwing against Vontae Davis would have been a laughable mismatch.

''I was probably a baby in diapers when he was first in the league,'' Davis said.

It's true: Davis was 3 when Favre made his NFL debut in 1991. Now, Davis is a second-year cornerback for the Miami Dolphins and part of a revamped secondary bracing to face Favre and the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

The pass defense was solid in a season-opening 15-10 win at Buffalo. Miami allowed only 116 yards through the air and had three sacks.

But that was against Trent Edwards, who has 25 career touchdown passes. Favre has an NFL record 498.

Favre also has started 286 games, compared with 70 for Miami's four starting defensive backs combined.

''It's a test for us,'' Davis said. ''We get to see where we're at when we go against Brett Favre.''

Where they're at is in transition. Davis and veteran strong safety Yeremiah Bell are holdover starters, but free safety Chris Clemons and cornerback Jason Allen won jobs in training camp, and Benny Sapp is the new nickel back after being acquired last month in a trade with the Vikings.

The secondary needed a shake-up after allowing 14 touchdown passes of 20 yards or more last year, second-most in the NFL. Early returns on the changes are favorable, with Miami 1-0 for the first time since 2005.

Minnesota is 0-1, and Favre is eager to get the offense in gear after throwing for only 171 yards in a 14-9 loss at New Orleans. After wavering on retirement, he joined the Vikings only four weeks ago, and rust showed.

''There's no doubt we have to get on the same page,'' Favre said, ''and we have to do it in a hurry.''

While cohesion might yet surface as an issue in the Dolphins' secondary, they had only one glaring defensive lapse at Buffalo - a blown assignment on fourth and 11 that resulted in a 31-yard scoring pass. Otherwise the Dolphins smothered the Bills' receivers.

''We played great as a whole,'' Clemons said. ''Everybody was getting to the ball.''

Open-field tackling was much improved over a year ago, and the Dolphins broke up seven passes. When Allen dropped a potential interception with only the end zone in front of him, he returned to the huddle grinning.

''That's all he could do, was laugh,'' Davis said. ''We joked around. We were having fun.''

Allen, a first-round pick in 2006, took a big step in shedding his label as a draft bust. He helped hold the Bills' Lee Evans to 34 receiving yards, playing so well that Sean Smith, who started all 16 games as a rookie in 2009, never got on the field.

''I probably should have played Sean,'' coach Tony Sparano said. ''The way it was going, we just didn't feel like it would be a good idea to mess around with that.''

Clemons, a fifth-round draft pick in 2009, was all over the field. He made one eye-popping tackle, blitzing from the left side and racing to the other sideline to chase down C.J. Spiller for a 1-yard loss.

''As good a play as I've seen,'' Sparano said.

''Chris was flying everywhere,'' Davis said. ''There were times I didn't even know where he came from.''

The front seven applied effective pressure, although the Dolphins did allow Edwards to scramble to the outside several times. That's a no-no against Favre.

''Those things, when you play against a guy like this, they'll kill you,'' Sparano said. ''He can take those plays and turn them into touchdowns, and everybody has seen him do it time and time again.''

Otherwise, the biggest knock on the Dolphins' defense is that the unit came up with no turnovers in the opener. That was a problem last year, when Miami's 21 takeaways were the fifth-fewest in the league.

Favre threw only seven interceptions in 531 passes last season, and it will be tough to wrest the ball from him. Still, the Dolphins' DBs look forward to the challenge.

''Him being 40 years old - that's like me playing against my father,'' Davis said. ''I would never have thought when I was watching Brett Favre at Green Bay that I would be lining up across from him. That's like a dream.

''It's also a dream to grab an interception from him.''


AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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