Thursday night is big for Ted Ginn Jr.
Yes, we'll still be watching a preseason game that will fade in our memory about two seconds after it ends. But the third preseason game is supposed to be something of a dress rehearsal for what we're likely to see from the Dolphins in the regular-season.
And as it pertains to Ginn, I hope the Dolphins find a way to feature him during the game. Because, so far this season, I'm not thrilled with what I've seen -- not necessarily from him, but with the use of him.
The Dolphins have thrown Ginn the football four times so far in the preseason, which means in about one full game's worth of work he's had four opportunities to make a play. Ginn caught two of those passes, was interfered with on another for a long gain, and dropped the fourth pass.
My problem? Three of the passes were thrown to him the first game. Only one was thrown to him versus Carolina.
And that worries me.
It worries me because, Ginn is not an established receiver. It worries me because the Dolphins coaches want to establish Ginn. It worries me because those same coaches aren't doing enough to establish Ginn and give him the opportunity to become, well, established.
While it was pleasing to see the Dolphins come out in the preseason-opener and try to establish Ginn, look for Ginn, throw to Ginn as the primary target, they simply forgot about him in the second game. What's that about?
The coaching staff that demands consistency has to show some consistency of their own and call plays for Ginn, look to feed Ginn, so he can have enough opportunities to provide some big plays.
I can hear the whining now: "Oh, Mando, it's only preseason. They'll throw to him plenty in the regular season."
Then that would be a change from last year. The bottom line is Ginn led the team in receptions all by himself only three times in 16 games last year. He tied for the team lead one other game. But he led the team in being targetted only once last year -- that in the Oct. 26 game versus Buffalo.
Throughout the season, targetting Ginn was a hit and miss proposition. The Dolphins barely threw to him the first couple of games, found him there for a stretch, then lost him again in three of the final four weeks of the season.
So how does Ginn become consistent if he's not consistently targetted?
The Dolphins might say, "Well, we feature all of our receivers so we target them all to spread the ball around and not be so predictable."
You think if Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald or someone of that ilk was on the team coaches would be trying to spread the wealth?
Spreading the wealth is a euphimism for, "We don't have a No. 1 receiver."
But you can't have a No. 1 receiver until you decide somebody is going to get most of the passes thrown his way and then throw him the ball. The Dolphins haven't done that. Ginn bears some responsibility for that. But Miami quarterbacks and coaches also must answer for that.
We are all hoping for Ginn to have a breakout year. Miami's coaches and quarterbacks would love nothing better. But those same coaches have to give Ginn enough chances to accomplish the feat. Those same quarterback have to feed Ginn the football.
Throwing to him three times in one half of play and then forgetting about him in the next half simply isn't consistent enough. It simply isn't good enough. It toys with the young player's confidence. It leads to inconsistent performance.
Of course, it's on Ginn to get open every play regardless of whether the pass is supposed to come to him or not. But deferring to him in the preseason to build up that confidence and his expectations seems like a smart thing to do.
If the Dolphins keep talking about wanting a No. 1 receiver but aren't going to go out and get one, they should at least give the most likely in-house candidate the chance to become that No.1 guy.
That guy is Ted Ginn Jr.
And the Dolphins should be throwing him the football more than they throw it to anyone else.