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Rejuvenated Porter looks to sacks record

DAVIE, Fla. -- Joey Porter wants it all.

The Defensive Player of the Year award. The return trip to the Pro Bowl. The silence of his critics -- or, as he calls them, "Pen Pushers" -- and yes, he wants that single-season sacks record, too.

"I got nine more games to go out and do something that hasn't been done before," Porter said Wednesday.

A year ago, the outspoken Miami Dolphins linebacker was considered one of the worst free-agent signings in NFL history. Now, he's leading the league with 10½ sacks, on pace to topple Michael Strahan's single-season record and an early contender for just about every defensive award.

Porter already has matched his career high with nine games left and is on pace to get 24 sacks. That would break Strahan's record of 22½ with the New York Giants during the 2001 season and provide even more fuel for the constant Miami motormouth.

"At the pace he's going right now, how could he not?" Dolphins cornerback Will Allen asked.

Porter was perhaps the biggest disappointment on last year's 1-15 Dolphins. After signing a five-year contract with $20 million guaranteed, he had only 2½ sacks through the first 13 games -- all losses for Miami -- and finished with 5½ sacks.

Even then, the trash-talking, headline-making linebacker seldom kept quiet. He often complained that then-coach Cam Cameron's 4-3 defense was inept and unsuited for his style, and that his sore right knee was the reason he didn't produce.

Then again, maybe he had a point.

At age 31, Porter has been rejuvenated by the Bill Parcells regime, playing as a pass-rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense similar to what earned him Pro Bowl status with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He still remains the loudest, most vulgar voice on a young Miami team trying to find its swagger.

"I'm talking, but at the same time I'm working," Porter said. "At the same time, I'm still talking though."

His recent production in Miami is finally matching his rhetoric.

Porter forced one fumble, recovered another and had two sacks -- with one producing a safety -- in Miami's 25-16 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

He's lifted a young defense the way another Miami pass rusher, Jason Taylor, used to do for the Dolphins. And he's all but erased any thoughts that Miami would miss the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"It's reminiscent of Jason a couple years back," defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. "When we needed a play, he stepped up and gave it to us."

Porter's honest -- and sometimes too open -- opinions have often caused a stir. But Parcells, who has been known to jettison players he deems too chatty, has yet to muzzle Porter.

Before the game at New England in September, Porter said the winless Dolphins would beat the undefeated Patriots and then openly criticized Tom Brady's replacement, Matt Cassel.

"I just know he's not a Tom Brady," Porter said then. "So if it's not Tom Brady, it shouldn't be that hard."

After the Bills game, Porter didn't hesitate to take a joking shot at reporters, calling them "Pen Pushers" after some wrote last year he was washed up.

For the moment, Porter has a chance to keep making noise both on and off the field as he pursues Strahan's record. But perhaps the one thing he won't predict is how many sacks he'll have this season.

"Whatever they keep leaving out there," Porter said. "You can't put a number on it. It's one of those situations, I can honestly say I've never started out like that."

Porter has a long way to go before any real talk of breaking Strahan's record has merit.

Mark Gastineau's record stood for 17 years until it was overtaken, and many argue Strahan's mark comes with an asterisk: Green Bay's Brett Favre appeared to lay down and give his friend a sack in the final game of the regular season. But Porter might not have a problem, either.

Miami's last game?

Against Favre and his current team, the Jets, at Giants Stadium.