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The other spot needing an acorn? WR, of course

I respect the fact some of you believe the Dolphins have a terrible situation at nose tackle. Jason Ferguson is 34 years old. And everyone behind him is unknown or unproven. I understand that.

But I would say the next highest position of need after right guard, the one that needs addressing if an upgrade player comes available through waivers or trade is the wide receiver spot.

Why?

Let's look at this logically. The Dolphins have a solid starting nose tackle in Ferguson. And the concerns about the position all stem from the fear he might get injured. And that is fair. But what if he has a season like 2008 and doesn't get injured?

Then the Dolphins have a solid NFL starting nose tackle sitting there. They are good.

What solid NFL wide receiver do the Dolphins have regardless of whether someone gets injured or stays healthy? What player do they have on the roster that presents the credentials as a WR that Ferguson presents as a NT?

Yeah, nobody.

The hope is Ted Ginn Jr. has his breakout season in 2009. The likelihood, however, is he will continue his slow but steady improvement toward being a good player.

On the other side of Ginn the Dolphins are currently starting Davone Bess. Bess is a solid player, a growing slot receiver. But is he (to impress commentor Marcus) a starting-caliber Z receiver? Is he a starting-caliber X?

I would say Bess, for all his gritty attributes and quickness, would not be able to start on 25 of 32 teams. He'd be a great slot guy, he'd be a wonderful answer in an emergency. He's growing and getting better. But a threat? A guy other teams worry about? He is not that. Fact is, he's going to be fighting for his life to make the team just like everyone else.

The Dolphins did draft two wide receivers in Patrick Turner and Brian Hartline. Please alert the media when they prove they belong. They have promise. They have potential. But they were, by any measure, second-day draft picks not expected to be as good as the gaggle of rookie receivers selected before them.

Exactly a dozen receivers were selected before Miami took Turner in the third round. Hartline, a fourth-rounder, was the 17th receiver to come off the boards. The point is they might become great players. But they might as easily not.

Then there is the question of Greg Camarillo. The Dolphins really appreciated his ability to get open and dissect defenses last year. He made himself available to the quarterback, made himself a big, reliable target. And then he blew out his knee.

I talked to Camarillo Tuesday and he expects to be 100 percent at some point. But he admitted to me he doesn't know when, exactly. He also admitted that reaching full health is a mental as well as physical challenge.

There is no guarantee whatsoever that challenge will be met before the 2009 season begins ... or is over.

So I believe the Dolphins would be right and will do right when it comes to the receiver position. They will continue to look for upgrades, for acorns. They will continue to monitor the Anquan Boldin situation, which they believe will go from a simmer to a boil around the time training camp is starting and then again just prior to the season starting.

Will they also monitor the NT spot? Of course. These guys are brilliant in what they do. They understand they are in a precarious situation at NT now and in a tough situation long-term.

But I would also tell you Ferguson is healthy, his weight is under control, and to expect him to get hurt is being terribly pessimistic. Beyond Ferguson, the Dolphins do have hopes for third-year player Paul Soliai, second-year player Joe Cohen, and rookie Lewis Ellis.

First off, Ellis has been overweight so the team is working hard to get him in shape for training camp. But he has impressed coaches with his (this is for Marcus again) leverage. He's not slow either.

Cohen was overweight last year. But he is in playing shape now and has a year of learning to his credit. I am told he is expected to mount a strong and legitimate challenge to Soliai's roster spot. We shall see as Soliai has lots of work to do getting in shape as he did in time for camp last year.

Finally, let us recognize what the NFL game is right now. It is a game in which most teams pass the ball about 53-58 percent of the time and run 42-47 percent of the time. Ferguson will not be in the game on passing downs and last year was limited to about 32-35 snaps per game.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins need game-changers that will be on offense that 53-55 percent or so when they're trying to pass. They need a threatening receiver who can worry the defense on about 40-45 snaps per game regardless of whether they throw or run an end around or run.

The simple math, assuming no injuries, dictates the Dolphins need one player more than the other.

Some of you will say the Dolphins have those players on the roster already. I say they would be wise to keep looking around, just in case.

And the truth -- regardless of our opinions -- is Jeff Ireland will continue to search for talent. Relentlessly. Unceasingly. At NT, at WR, and at practically every position in between.

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