Steve Smiths battle with Aqib Talib was the best drama on television Monday, complete with big plays, hints of violence and perhaps the best post-game trash talk of the season.
Ice up, son. Ice up, Smith instructed Talib after his Panthers beat the Patriots, both on the scoreboard and physically, in a 12-round, knockdown bout.
Fast-forward a week, and if Smith snarled the same junk to his likely opponent this coming Sunday Brent Grimes hed probably get a laugh in response.
For while Talib tries to cover with swagger and intimidation, thats simply not Grimes style.
I really dont get into it like that, Grimes said with a chuckle. [Smith is] known for getting into stuff. Hes high-strung, obviously. Hes competitive. He gets excited, extremely excited, when he makes plays.
Through 11 weeks of the NFL season, Grimes has shown that happy-go-lucky can work just as well if not better than fire-and-brimstone.
Simply put, he just might be the lockdown corner the Dolphins have searched for since the days of Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison.
The scouting website Pro Football Focus ranks Grimes as the third-best corner in the league. He has three interceptions. He hasnt allowed a touchdown all season. Quarterbacks have a rating of just 62.4 when throwing to his coverage area.
And he has done it without a lot of help. Fellow Dolphins corner Dimitri Patterson estimates the coaches ask Grimes to play man-to-man between 80 and 90 percent of the time a figure Grimes didnt dispute.
He goes after the ball, aggressive at the point of attack, real athletic, Patterson said.
Added Grimes: We play a lot of coverages where were just out there playing.
A perfect example: Grimes game-altering interception in last Sundays victory against San Diego.
Chargers receiver Vincent Brown tried to fool Grimes with a double-move. It didnt work.
I just reacted, flipped my hips and ran, Grimes explained. I was tracking the ball and made a play. It wasnt anything, really.
Thats the kind of humility that makes Grimes a refreshing change of pace in a league where many defensive backs talk as much (if not more) as they cover.
Take, for instance, Seattles demonstrative Richard Sherman, who is also having a great season. He leads the Pro Bowl voting at his position with more than 250,000 votes.
But if Sherman had Grimes low-key personality, he wouldnt be nearly as popular.
Grimes, meanwhile, isnt among the the top-two vote-getters at his position despite playing at an empirically high level.
When asked about that incongruity this week, he simply shrugged.
Thats the story of my whole thing, Grimes said. I'm not a first-round pick or anything like that. Im not a name. I didnt go to a big school. Im not known that well.
Grimes continued: Even if Im playing well, Im not that big of a name. Im not mad about it. Its just how it goes. ... Ive just got to work that much harder. As long as my team knows Im playing well, and people I really care about know Im playing well, thats all that really matters to me.
No doubt, the Dolphins know hes playing well. Thats why defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle continues to put him on an island and if recent history holds, will assign him to Smith when the Panthers come to town Sunday.
Grimes is two-thirds the way through the one-year deal he signed in the spring. Now that the Dolphins have a player of his caliber in the defensive backfield, they can ill-afford to let him go.
He wants to be here long-term, he said this week, but Miamis front office has yet to approach him with a contract offer.
Grimes doesnt expect talks to get serious until after the season, which considering the uncertainty surrounding the current front office is probably a good bet. He is also a prime candidate for the franchise tag.
I like it here, Grimes said. I say that a lot in the media, to anybody who asks me. I like the coaches, I like the players, I like the locker room. Its a cool place, I like it a lot.
• The only change to the Dolphins injury report Thursday: Jimmy Wilson (abdomen) would have participated fully had the Dolphins practiced. Starters Dimitri Patterson (groin) and Mike Pouncey (illness) again would have sat out the entire workout.