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  Phins.com Exclusive: Taylor on Facing Webb and Long
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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The Miami Dolphins have a proud tradition of fine offensive line play. Hall of Famers like Dwight Stephenson, Jim Langer, and Larry Little represent the best of the interior line. Others, such as G Bob Kuechenberg and LT Richmond Webb, are worthy of joining this exclusive club.


Webb is widely regarded as the best left tackle in team history. Earning seven consecutive Pro Bowl berths and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 90s, he was Dan Marino’s blindside protector for ten years.


Jake Long continues this tradition of excellence today. A Pro Bowler at left tackle in just his rookie season, Long distinguished himself against some of the best front seven players the NFL has to offer.


One man in NFL history, perhaps the only one, who has faced both Webb and Long, is Jason Taylor.


For Taylor, it’s déjà vu. Back in 1997, as a rookie defensive end from little known Akron University, the first of four third round picks (73rd overall), the undersized Taylor had the unenviable task of matching up against Webb. For JT, it was the school of hard knocks as the accomplished veteran schooled the raw rookie on a daily basis. This continued for the next four seasons before Webb left the Dolphins. There’s little doubt those early contests, hundreds of collisions worth, helped Taylor’s early development.


Fast forwarding to 2009, Taylor is back with the Dolphins after a forgettable season with the Washington Redskins. The roles are reversed from those late 90s contests. Now it’s Taylor, the greatest defender in team history and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, schooling the younger player. As Darth Vader might say, “The circle is now complete. When I left you I was but the learner. Now I am the master."


Since training camp began, the master has been going up against the learner. The battles have been fun to watch, a strength-on-strength affair when Taylor is matched up with Long. No doubt it is Long who is benefitting the most from facing the hard-charging Taylor.


Personally, I’ve been fascinated by this strange twist of fate. So I asked Taylor to share his thoughts with us on facing Long and how it compares to the times he faced Webb.


“When I first came in, Richmond was a veteran and one of the best at the position”, reflected Taylor. “He obviously taught me a lot against him, and having to lose rushes to him everyday taught me how to rush the passer.”


“Jake has all the tools to be as good as Richmond or better. He is still young, but you can definitely see he has the temperament, the ability and the mindset. Jake is going to be a great player in the league for a long time.”


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