MIAMI Jamar Taylor was on a smooth path to the NFL, one of the nations top cornerback prospects and a possible first-round pick.
Then came a routine physical at the NFL Scouting Combine, with results that rocked his world.
Taylors creatinine levels were high, an indication that his kidneys were operating well below capacity. Turns out, medication for chronic high blood pressure had severely damaged the organs. If untreated, Taylors kidneys might have eventually failed.
I never knew about it, honestly, Taylor said. I was like, What are you talking about?
It never bothered me, he said. I never (urinated) blood or anything like that. I always played football, played fast, did my thing.
Although reversible, the condition caused interested teams to step back. Taylor fell out of the first round and all the way to the 54th pick, where the Dolphins took a chance on a player who they envisioned as a future starter.
Five months later, Taylor is expected to finally take the field as a pro football player.
Barring an unforeseen setback, Taylor will play Monday night when the Dolphins and Saints meet in a matchup of undefeated teams.
You cant ask for a better show, Taylor said.
Granted, the speedy cover man from San Diego hoped to make his debut in Week 1. However, the kidney disorder that scared off teams indirectly contributed to him missing the first three games of his pro career.
In the spring, Dolphins doctors determined he needed surgery on a sports hernia.
The normal recovery time for such a procedure is three months, but Taylor faced an added hurdle: He cant take anti-inflammatory medication that would have minimized the pain.
It definitely (stinks), he said. Its been an emotional roller coaster, but Im finally healthy and ready to go whenever they want.
Im a fighter. I talked to the trainers, coaches, Get me healthy, and Ill produce on the field.
Hell likely get that chance Monday.
Starting cornerback Dimitri Patterson has missed the past two games with an injured groin and is out again Sunday.
Without Patterson, the Dolphins have allowed an average of 273 passing yards per game and the news gets worse: Drew Brees and the Saints have the leagues fourth-best passing attack.
That means Taylor and fellow rookie Will Davis, who has been sidelined by a toe injury, might get a chance to play from scrimmage.
Wed like to see those guys and see what they can do, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said.
When healthy, Taylor has an impressive body of work.
He was all-conference as a senior at Boise State, capping a career during which he forced six fumbles, knocked down 18 passes and intercepted seven passes.
JERSEY OFF HIS BACK
Taylor was invited to the Senior Bowl, where he had an impressive week of practice that opened the eyes of scouts throughout the league, including in Miami.
He didnt keep his jersey as a souvenir, however.
Taylor gave it to Stephen Kinsey, a teenage boy from Texas battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The two met a few years before when Kinsey, a huge Boise State fan, was invited to lead the Broncos onto the field before a game.
Over the years, Taylor and Kinsey remained in touch, and Taylor wears a blue bracelet honoring his young friend.
He will do so until Kinseys cancer-free.
I know its hard, fighting cancer, Taylor said. If I can get him out here to watch one game, put a smile on his face, hopefully itll change his aspect on life.
Taylors life-changing moment came at a hospital in Indianapolis, where his kidney condition was discovered.
On Monday, he hopes to have a chance to prove the revelation merely delayed the start of his career, but wont define it.
When you first come in here, you want to play, Taylor said. All you can do is learn and trust the coaches and trust what youre being taught. Trust the trainers.
When its your time and youre called on, buckle up, its time to roll.
MORE IDAHO CONNECTIONS
Bengals safety George Iloka (Boise State) said he is appealing a $15,000 fine he incurred for a hit that concussed Packers tight end Jermichael Finley.
He was coming at me head first, and I was just trying to make a play on the ball and knock it out with my hand, and his head happened to hit my lower bicep area and caused a concussion, the second-year safety said.
Iloka, a fifth-round draft pick in 2012, makes $480,000 this season and faces the possibility of seeing this weeks check more than chopped in half.
Pretty much, I played for free last week, he said.
The Vikings are wondering if all the quality time they are spending together in London is really what they need to turn their season around.
Minnesota plays Pittsburgh on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. Traveling abroad and adjusting to the jet lag and time difference is a challenge.
I dont think we needed the distraction of traveling to another country to play a football game when we're trying to right the ship, defensive end Jared Allen (Idaho State) said. But at the same time if you use the time properly, youre kind of secluded and everyone is focused on winning the football game, then it could work. Its all about how people handle it.
What did Lions QB Kellen Moore (Boise State) do to simulate Robert Griffin III on the scout team in practice last week?
Try and learn to throw with my right arm and cut down about four-tenths on my 40, Moore joked with the Detroit Free Press.