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McKyer and his mouth return to face Dolphins

The plot: A talented, talkative controversial cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons returns to Florida, where he once cultivated his reputation.

The role could go to Fort Myers native Deion Sanders, who may squeeze Sunday's game at Miami between his post-season duties with the Atlanta Braves.

Or give the part to Tim McKyer instead. He'll play against his ex-Miami teammates for the first time when Atlanta (2-3) visits the surprising Dolphins (4-0).

Deion may be Neon, but Tim's far from dim. He spent one turbulent season with the Dolphins in 1990, making predictions, disparaging opponents and angering coach Don Shula and quarterback Dan Marino.

"His problem," Marino grumbled near the end of that season, "is that he talks too much."

Predictably, McKyer was traded _ to Atlanta and coach Jerry Glanville, who has a more sympathetic attitude toward motor-mouths.

"Around here nobody even hears him," Glanville said, "because everybody else is talking."

Uncharacteristically, Sanders wasn't talking to reporters this week. McKyer also turned suddenly shy, declining to participate in a conference call with the South Florida media.

Shula, meanwhile, offered faint praise for his former cornerback.

"He played some good football for us," Shula said, emphasizing "some."

Like any cornerback, McKyer occasionally gives up a big play, but he also has 27 career interceptions. And had he agreed to the conference-call interview, McKyer likely would have pointed out three facts:

The year before he arrived in Miami, the Dolphins were 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.

In 1990, they were 12-4 and reached the playoffs.

The season after he left, they were 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

"He would have helped us last year," Dolphins cornerback J.B. Brown said. "He ticked some people off with his comments, but he was a lot of help to me. He gave me a lot of confidence. That boldness _ a little bit of that rubbed off on me."

The Falcons, 5-11 in 1990, were 10-6 last season and reached the playoffs. One could conclude that McKyer, who also helped San Francisco to two Super Bowl titles, is a winner.

"His first year here had a real big impact on us and helped us crawl out of that dark hole," Glanville said. "We would have never gotten into the playoffs without him."

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