Part five of a seven-part series previewing the Miami Dolphins. The articles will focus on dissecting the team's most crucial positions before the start of training camp.
Part Five: The Wide Receivers
The Dolphins will enter training camp with plenty of questions concerning the receiving corp.
Is Ted Ginn Jr. ready to take the next leap forward? Will Davone Bess replace Greg Camarillo? How much will the “Wildcat” affect the passing game, and who is Anthony Armstrong?
Ginn is showing signs that this could be his breakout season. In 2008, he led the team with 56 receptions and 790 yards, but only five catches on passes thrown over 20 yards. Can he be an elite receiver in this offense? The answer to that may not come until Chad Henne or Pat White takes over at quarterback.
Camarillo is returning from a knee injury and seems ready for the start of training camp. He missed the last five games of 2008 and still finished second on the team with 55 catches and 613 yards.
Bess replaced him last season and flourished with 30 catches and 279 yards in those final five games. With Ginn focusing on the wide receiver position Bess might have to pick up the slack in the return game. He averaged 11 yards on punt returns and 22.2 yards on kick-off returns in 2008.
The top three receivers are not set in stone, but the experience, what little there is, of Camarillo, Bess, and Ginn will set them apart from all the rookies on the roster. This year, the rookies will get more attention because everyone is looking for the next Devone Bess on this roster.
That is one reason Anthony Armstrong is starting to generate a lot of interest from “Dolfans.” The second reason is that in Organized Team Activities he humiliated newly acquired defensive backs Eric Green and Gibril Wilson.
The former Arena League player spent last year on the practice squad. He has improved his route running and has plenty of speed but so far has not proved it against NFL level competition. OTA’s don’t really count and it may be a completely different story when Green and Wilson are allowed to be more physical in coverage.
Still, Armstrong’s speed is very exciting and his year on the practice squad gives him some advantage over the other rookies. Patrick Turner and Brian Hartline recently signed four-year contracts so it would seem barring any strange unforeseen event that both will be on the 53-man roster.
Turner shined in OTA’s showing off his height and getting separation from the corners. Parcells wants another Keyshawn Johnson he wants a big red-zone target and at 6'5" Turner is about as big as they come. It could be a coincidence that he played at USC or Parcells thinks he has the next Keyshawn.
Hartline is another tall receiver but might have been brought in to play special teams. Still a work in progress but the talent is defiantly there. He excelled on special teams at Ohio State and that is where he will be needed most.
It is unlikely the Dolphins will have room for more than or six receivers on the roster which leaves four receivers fighting for one spot. Armstrong seems to have the led for now but there are a few rookie free agents that want to be this year’s Devone Bess.
Brennan Marion averaged 41 catches a season and 30 yards per catch during a two-year career at Tulsa University. Those numbers are accurate you are reading them correctly. He is coming back from a knee injury that kept teams from drafting him, but he led the nation in yards per catch for two years.
Chris Williams is the other rookie free agent. He is the smallest receiver in the group but he might be the fastest. He ran a 4.28 second 40-yard dash during his pro day but like Marion he was injured during his senior year and it scared of teams entering the draft.
Parcells use to have Dave Meggett and maybe he wants another one. Williams was very productive in college and he will try to stick as a return man on a team that desperately needs one.
With all the new talent brought in this year Brandon London seems to be on his way out. It’s not all bad for London who is emerging as a male runway model. Life could be a lot worse.
He has said that he is fully committed to the NFL and the Dolphins but if he doesn’t make
the team his backup plan is much more promising than most NFL free agents.
Training camp should be fun to watch. There are plenty of player looking to prove themselves and head coach Tony Sparano’s philosophy encourages competition. Bess and Camarillo were productive last year but Parcells and Sparano are always looking to improve.