Joey Porter, Miami's loquacious linebacker, has done it again.
As he is wont to do, Porter spouted off about his "natural hate" for the Patriots, which he insists will always be with him.
"That's not ever going to change," he said, among other things, during his conference call with New England media earlier this week.
But as you might expect, the Patriots refused to take Porter's bait.
"I love that 55 guy. I do," said another 55 guy, Patriots linebacker Junior Seau, with a knowing laugh.
"He's a great athlete, a great player, and a good friend. I love what he does out there. You know, everybody has their own identity, and that's Joey Porter. Joey is who he is, and that's why I respect that guy so much."
But what about Seau's teammates? How have they reacted to Porter's inflammatory comments? Seau's tongue-in-cheek reply effectively lightened the mood of the assembled media who were looking to chronicle a potential war of words.
"Not that many players in this locker room can read, so … it's not bothering us," a smiling Seau joked.
"Yeah, we ignore the noise around here," added fellow LB Tully Banta-Cain. "We have a game on Sunday and that's where all the real talking that matters is going to happen. We try not to get too caught up in what's going on with anybody else's mouth."
What Seau and Banta-Cain have been preoccupied with this week is how they're going to stop the Dolphins' dangerous Wildcat offense, featuring running backs Ronnie Brownand Ricky Williams.
Neither of the two Patriots linebackers was with the team when the Dolphins unveiled their gimmick offense a year ago (Seau rejoined the club in December, after the Pats had faced Miami in their annual home-and-away games). So, this Sunday's contest will be the first live experience against the Wildcat for both Seau and Banta-Cain.
According to Banta-Cain, this week in practice, practice squad QB Isaiah Stanbackhas been one of a handful of Patriots who've attempted to simulate Brown's role on the scout team offense. But Banta-Cain realizes that watching the Wildcat on film, or even trying to replicate it in practice, won't come close to the actual speed of the plays in Sunday's game.
"Oh yeah, they run it as efficiently as you can run it," he observed. "You're never going to get the exact tempo or speed of the play in practice. You just have to be aware that you can get all kinds of things from this team and they play at a high pace. So, we're going to have our antennas up on Sunday and we'll have to match their speed."
Though Seau will also be seeing the Wildcat live for the first time, he's familiar with Brown, a former teammate when Seau was with the Dolphins.
"I remember him as a rookie, and I could tell right then, the sky was the limit."
"Ronnie Brown is a great athlete," Seau continued. "He's back there making great decisions and making it hard on defenses. We have our hands full. With the Wildcat, you have to have the right personnel, and Ronnie Brown makes that work. With Ronnie and Ricky, you have two of the better running backs in the league. Ronnie Brown back there playing quarterback and making the decisions that he's making, it's a rare talent. I tip my hat to him."
As the Q&A session in the Patriots locker room was winding down, Banta-Cain's cell phone rang. He turned to pick it up, then turned back to reporters.
"Joey Porter calling me …" he deadpanned, drawing laughter from those around him.
Friday locker room/practice notes
The Patriots donned shells and sweat pants for the second straight practice, which was held today on the Gillette Stadium game surface.
The same six players who weren't on the field the past couple of days were again absent today: rookie WR Julian Edelman, RBs Fred Taylorand Sammy Morris, CB Jonathan Wilhite, DL Jarvis Green, and LT Matt Light.
Prior to their Friday workout, the Patriots released OL Kendall Simmons, who'd been inactive for all but one of New England's games this season.