Dolphins’ Byron Maxwell: ‘I’m the best’ corner in NFL

Going back to the end of September, most observers were convinced that the Byron Maxwell experiment was a failure and that the cornerback would be out of town next season.

It was Sept. 29, not long before a Thursday night game in Cincinnati, when it was announced that Maxwell was benched from his starting position, replaced by second year corner Tony Lippett.

Now, eight weeks later, Maxwell is the Dolphins’ best defensive back.

“It’s not not even close of how he’s playing right now compared to before,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said when discussing Maxwell’s play last week and in particular but over the last two months generally.

“He was not a guy that played soft in coverage. He was up for the challenge. We’ve got young guys in the back end. At one point in the game, I thought it was moving a little fast for them. It’s a big game. It’s a learning experience. It’s their first time being in a game of that magnitude, but Byron didn’t flinch. You can see he has been in big games.

“I’ve been impressed with the guy. He’s putting the work in after practice, during practice, watching film, doing extra sprints. He has put the work in. I’m impressed by the guy.”

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Maxwell, a six year veteran, has recorded 50 tackles this season, has deflected 14 pass attempts on defense, forced four fumbles, and has intercepted two passes, both in his last four games.

His progress at the position is tangible, rebounding from some embarrassing early season outings - often a step slower, out of position, and an unsure tackler, even getting hurdled in a game against New England - before a landmark showing coming against Pittsburgh, when he held Antonio Brown to just 23 yards.

The ball seems to be around him more, and, what’s more, he’s doing positive things with it, responsible for four turnovers in his last four appearances. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the No. 11 corner in the league.

There’s no doubt Maxwell has gained confidence as a result. When someone near him, in the locker room this week, said that Arizona’s Patrick Peterson, who plays in Miami this week, was regarded as the best corner in football, Maxwell thought otherwise.

“Listen, if he wants to say that, he can say that,” Maxwell said, via the Miami Herald. “I’m pretty sure he believes that. Just like I believe I’m the best. Nothing against him, he is a great cornerback. The answer depends on who you ask.”

If you ask Byron Maxwell, he’ll say Byron Maxwell.

He has a chance to prove it on Sunday.

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