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Game rewind: Give me a starting WR

Just watched the Dolphins game against Carolina for the third time. The Dolphins won all three times so that speaks well of their consistency.

Here are the talking points I believe will become important this week as the team prepares for the all-important third preseason game. Remember the third preseason game is the dress rehersal for the regular season. Starters play longer. Coaches want their lineups pretty much set by this game. It doesn't count, but it gives you an idea of what to expect in the regular season.

Coming out of the victory over Carolina and heading to Tampa Bay, I believe the Dolphins have resolved their right guard situation. Donald Thomas and Shawn Murphy again split series during Saturday night's game but Thomas was clearly the better player.

Thomas threw a great block on the game's second running play, a 10-yard gain by Ronnie Brown on which Thomas and Justin Smiley both pulled right and created a seam that a truck could have fit through. Thomas threw a nice block on Lex Hilliard's 39-yard touchdown run. I couldn't find any block that Thomas missed.

Murphy had a nice night also, but he got trucked on one passing situation and it resulted in Chad Henne getting plowed under on a pass attempt that fell incomplete. Murphy is working toward becoming asolid  backup. Thomas is working on solidifying himself as the starter.

With the perennial right guard problem on the way to being resolved, I need to tell you about two other problems the Dolphins have that need similar quality resolution.

The special teams continues to hurt the Dolphins. And the Dolphins passing game, particularly as it pertains to the receiver corps, is worrisome.

Special teams: I hope you read my column regarding Chris Williams. Look, I like the idea of a cruise missle returning punts and kicks for the Dolphins as much as anyone. But Williams doesn't handle kicks cleanly. I watched the game (again and again) and he didn't handle any punt cleanly. He caught every punt at least twice in that it would hit his hands and bounce and then he'd latch on. And, of course, he had no idea on the punt that hit his facemask and turned into a fumble that led to a Carolina TD.

So, as I wrote, his opportunity has come and very likely gone.

But special teams has other issues. There was the 58-yard punt return by Captain Munnerlyn, there was the illegal block in the back on a punt return that would have been hurtful had Williams not offered a higher degree of pain with his fumble on the same play. There was also a 15-yard personal foul call on Brandon London for plowing the wedge on a kickoff, and there was the generally unspectacular return play by any Miami returner.

The Dolphins are currently averaging 3.7 yards per punt return in the preseason -- that's 27th in the NFL.

It wasn't all horrible on special teams, mind you. Adopted son focus player Chris Clemons had a recovery of a fumbled punt at the Carolina 14 in the fourth quarter. Yeah, he's earned a roster spot already.

The other concern I have following these first two preseason games is the inconsistent nature of Miami's passing game. It is a passing game that has some basic, troubling tendencies.

First, it is a passing game where running backs are generally the most effective weapons, which is terrible in today's big-play NFL. To date, Ronnie Brown and Patrick Cobbs are the most explosive pass-catchers on the offense. Brown had a 28-yard TD grab vs. Carolina while Cobbs had a 35-yard grab.

For the preseason, Brown leads the team with a 14.3 yards per catch average among players with more than one reception while Cobbs is tied with Brian Hartline for second at 14 yards per reception for players that have more than one catch. What does that mean?

It means The Dolphins do a lot of check-down passing and short-range passing. It means the wide receivers aren't getting open quick enough to become the primary targets of a majority of throws. It means the quarterbacks for now are more comfortable throwing to the backs than the receivers.

I was pleased that Ted Ginn Jr. had a solid outing in the preseason-opener, in that he only caught two passes but was targetted five times, with one of those resulting in a pass interference. If Ginn is to have tht breakout season everyone keeps talking about, he has to become the focus of the passing game. But rather than build on that last game, the Dolphins practically ignored Ginn vs. Carolina.

He was thrown one pass on a receiver quick screen and he dropped it. And he didn't have a catch all game. The leading receiver for the game? Cobbs -- a running back. He caught four passes.

Despite being practically invisible we all know Ginn will be a starter this season. So my question is who is the other starting receiver?

Davone Bess? Greg Camarillo? Brian Hartline? Patrick Turner?

The point I'm making is it is wide open and unresolved. Everyone expected Camarillo or Bess to be the other starter by virtue of their superior experience. But that superior experience has been unspectacular in the preseason.

Bess caught one pass and dropped one pass against Carolina. The week before he had two catches and two more drops. Dropping as many passes as one catches is not the way to win a starting job.

Camarillo played only four plays in the preseason opener, which has nothing to do with anything he's doing wrong. The coaching staff is being cautious as their receiver returns from last year's knee surgery. Camarillo got lots more action Saturday night. He was targetted twice and caught both passes The net gain of those two catches? Four yards.

Brian Hartline actually started vs. Carolina. That of itself should tell you the coaches are searching for a candidate to pair with Ginn as the starter and have not found that person yet. Hartline is a smart, mature kid. He doesn't act like a rookie. But he also doesn't act like Jerry Rice. He caught only one pass for 8 yards.

I am told coaches are not as high on Turner as the media. They don't see as much desire as they wish to see. They don't see nearly the consistency they want to see. And that showed against Carolina as he Turner would at times seem to have more urgency than others, and consequently sometimes get separation while getting none at other times.

The inconsistent play netted three receptions for 25 yards. But Turner was thrown to five times and he failed to make what would have been an excellent diving catch along the sideline.

So who is the starter opposite Ginn? We will have to wait for someone to step forward. Because no one really has.


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I think you ment Ronnie Brown and Patrick cobbs are the most explosive pass catchers on the team. You wrote Ronnie Brown and Patrick Turner.

Thanks, print. I have made the correction. Now, can you come with a more interesting comment?


A little negative don't you think? I mean both Hartline and Turner are rookies, what did you except? Anquan Boldin part deux? You have to give these guys some time, while i do agree none have flashed on a consistent basis what they are capable of, i do think Bess will be the other starting WR opposite Ginn. Turner will be used for 3rd down plays and some deep passes and in end zone situations. It takes some adjustment we know it will be different once the regular reason kicks in, these rooks will have to put petal to the metal on every play to survive and impact the team.

I think we need to go get one, Brandon Marshall is clearly not happy in Denver and we sure could use someone of his caliber.


I agree with Mando. The WR situation is troubling. It's clear. We should have made a move for someone.

Please stop looking at other people's problems as the solution to ours (Marshall & Boldin). The current regime has clearly shown that they do not and will not panic like anyone in the recent past (looking directly at you Dave Wannstedt). I believe the answer is on this roster. Of the receivers you mentioned Armando, 3 have a years experience playing with the QB that should have been MVP, not just Comeback POY. This will come around and we will go for our 2nd consecutive AFC East title.

That and there's no way we are giving up 1st or 2nd round draft picks for any of those guys. We are building form within and it will stay like that. Ginn, Bess, Camarillo and Fasano, those guys are the one's that need to step up.

I'm with the homie on this one. We could really use a game-breaker at WR.
It's a shame Dez Bryant will be long gone by the time we pick in 10'. (We finish 9-7, by the way.)

Geez, I through this subject up a week ago and been thinking about it for a month - wheres my paycheck?people blog because of boredom and lack of team insight. A blind man can see this team is ripe for a Marvin Harrison type!!! Unfortunately I get the feeling that we're also not going to start Henne for some time now. Also, you can count on gimmicke wild cat to come out and play as Pennington's lack of arm stength slows the regular Offense down! Teams w/ a potent air attack dont need the wild cat - and can they quit it w/ those wide receiver screens?!!

Give Camarillo a break. Both of his catches were near or behind the line of scrimmage, both were poorly thrown balls from White that he did well to bring in, one nearly got him killed.

Turner looked very slow. He had a lot of trouble getting separation. I think he's a 4th WR at best right now.

I think Hartline has the most upside out of the guys on the bubble.

We're keeping 6, so Ginn, Bess, Hartline, Camarillo, Turner, London. Maybe put Greg on the PUP list and keep Wilford around for a few weeks to see what he can do and maybe get a pick for him.

One dropped pass and you're asking if he can be a starting receiver? Christ...

I think we are playing to our strength ,which is the short passing game, at least while CP is in there.

We did see some longer passing attempts with the other Chad in but the throws were a bit off. The one diving miss the receiver slipped which put him off his route and the other the pass was a bit long but could possibly been caught with a diving attempt.

I am more concerned with the big plays our D gave up more than our receiving core though we did hold Carolina to only 2 third down conversions.

I believe our depth will be a BIG advantage this season because injuries will come that is a fact. I think we have good back up talents for a variety positions.

When Ted(OPPS) Ginn is your primary receiver your in a world of trouble, What are your thought people, the menace is on-line..

I think Ginn was mostly ignored because, after all, this IS the preseason and coaches wanted to see what the other WRs can do (left Ginn in as a distraction to the "D" since that is what it is).

That D. Thomas is a bulldozer, man!
My feeling is the coaches know what to expect from Ginn, and of course were spending more time looking over the other dudes.

Right on both counts Mando. I looked at special teams coach's (Rizzi) profile....looks like his only claim to fame is knowing Sparano. Him or Bonomego or both need to go.

I couldn't figure out why Henne was throwing all short and medium passes. Watched the game on TV and all I saw was what the camera wanted me to see. But after reading what you wrote re. WRs, it made sense....the WRs are not getting loose. Hope Ginn or a rook steps up.

what is wrong with bess. he is dropping way too many passes

Agreed Mando...it's so sad that our set starter would be any other team's number 2, maybe even number 3 receiver...and nobody is stepping up as a surefire number 2. Good luck Pennington...

Good blogging mando, I think the way our offense is designed because of Chad p. Is a short passing dink and dunk type of game which will always use wr on the edge as decoys and then check down backs are the primary receivers. It is what it is. You can win with this type of offense so I don't see a need to panic for a big play wide receiver!

they may have to swing a trade for a receiver because the ones on this roster are a bunch of jokes.


Agree with you on, it is what it is. However, I wish our defense would face QBs that did not have the arm strength to beat you with a long bomb. That would be nice you know.

Eric, you are joke.

Carlito I will pound you senseless

You are a third world joke, carlito

What a mountain our of a molehill re the receivers Armando. Everybody knows that what Bess and Camarillo can do, so which one starts opposite Ginn is of no consequence, at all!

Re the Panthers game, it was obvious Sparano wanted to get the smash mouth game going, with dump off's to the backs as well. This will be the bedrock of the O. Passes to the receivers took a back seat in this game.

If you are wishing for the Fins to employ a vertical passing game, with a true #1, keep wishing. It's not gonna happen, at least this year.

Name for me the #1 receiver on the 86 or 90 Giants? There wasn't one.

I can't imagine Bess or Camarillo won't be starting opposite Ginn at this point. Also, this is a Dan Henning offense and someone correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think his playbook has ever been known for taking many chances deep. It's obviously built around the run with shortpasses to the receivers, middle of the field passes to the TE's, and check downs to the backs. It's actually the perfect offense for Penny to run which is probably a big reason why he had a good year in 08'. There's no way the staff is going to take chances turning the ball over by heaving up prayers when they know Chad can't deliver the long ball consistently or accurately. They'll be dinking and dunking their way down the field because right now Penny is our best choice as Henne isn't quite ready for the big time yet. It's not exciting folks, but it's worked for many teams in the past as long as the defense can rise to the occasion and create some turnovers. Knowing all of this and if our defense is indeed better this year, as they seem to be so far, they could make a playoff push in the end. So in my opinion, and because of what Mando has pointed out, the season rides more on what kind of field position the defense (and special teams) can create for the offense. A dominant defense can get you through the playoffs if you have a dink and dunk offense, just ask Trent Dilfer.

NYScott, your are right about Dilfer when he was on the Ravens. How about when he was with the Bucs? Afterall, they had a pretty good defense when Dilweed was there.

good try fake Eric(k) I know it is not real Eric because all he do is complain.

Fake Eric(k),

The only thing getting pounded senseless is you mamma.

I thought the dolphins had a potent offensive performance against the panthers. They moved the ball rather easily against a pretty good d in carolina. I'm not nearly as pessimistic about the passing game as armando. With a strong running game comes a reliable passing game, that's the least we can expect. The upside of course is if a receiver has a pro bowl season. I'll take Ronnie Brown turning into LT over Ted Ginn turning into Steve Smith.

And let's not forget Pat Turner is playing his 2nd NFL game, I like that the coaches are pushing him to compete every down. And no disrespect to Pat White but he played 8 minutes with the starters and completed 1 pass and scrambled twice. Running QB's slow down the passing game. Excited for the season!

Excellent analysis, Mando.

Pennington doesn't have the gun that it takes to consistently get it to a "can be relied on even when he's covered", number one type receiver, but he did fine last year except against the Ravens, when the whole team (including the coaches) seemed to be running scared for once. But he's probably got a significantly better line and ground game this year, a significantly better receiving unit (when it comes to playing with him, and, in general, compared to last year), and will probably be successful again. And this "This one's not fast enough, this one's not big enough, their one is just right" Goldilocks business is silly. The important thing is that you just don't want to have anybody on the team who is a liability - or even just not an asset - on the balance.

I am also shocked that anyone would suggest they fire our special teams coach because they gave up a 58 yard runback in one meaningless preseason game. It's one play guys, just one. They played great in the first game and were for the most part solid for the rest of the second game. Boom is from the superbowl Giants and they had a very good special teams unit. It's ONE PLAY in ONE PRESEASON GAME and people want him fired? Unbelievable.


you should not be shocked about people saying stupid things here. This happen all the time. Someone today ask we we don't get Hakkeem Nicks from NYG? Like it that easy to convince a team to give up they first round draft pick before they even see what they got. Or that the Dolphins would want to give something up for expensive unproven commodity. And this would be from team that has it own receiver problems (NYG).

People don't think or they don't think good enough.


If you noticed last week, Ginn has his Corner beat down the left sideline, Pennington tried to get it to him but couldnt throw it that far, Ginn came back and there was a PI penalty, but still, he couldnt get it down the field. Also, last night, Cobbs was way wide open, and had to wait again because Pennington underthrew and couldnt get it down far enough. So, we may have the recievers, but we dont have a QB who can get it to him. At least not Pennington anyway. Love CP, but he is what he is.

I don't think WR is as big of a problem as what it is being made out to be. Ginn looked really good against the Jaguars. He was only in for 2 series against the Panthers so hard to judge him by this past week. There was no need to play him that much as the coaches know what he can do, so I think that is why they started Hartline because they want to see what he can do. Chad P is really high on Hartline, I think he might win the job. That says alot about his talent if he could unseat 2 WRs that caught over 50 passes last year. It would be nice to have a Boldin or Marshall but I don't think it is worth the price you would have to pay and I don't think it is necessary in the offense we currently run.

I was listening to the Ireland interview earlier and he seems to think Pat Turner is still a viable receiver. He got off to a slow start at USC if you will remember. I think Camarillo or Bess will be #2, I would however keep your eyes on Hartline. Sparano seems to like him and he has spent more time with him than we have.

Armando, even though some fans see the team thru rose colored glasses I think your analysis on the passing game is right on the money. When its 3rd and long - 9 times out of ten its a short pass. Isnt the preseason the time to work on these things.

Bottom line: Armando has to write "something," it's his job...and apparently it doesn't have to be thoughtful

its not the receivers, its the QB. Penny cant get it down field to loosen up the defense. He just can't. Hence the trifecta in putting crossing patters, check downs, screens. Im telling u right now, I love the Fins, Trifecta and their players, but its time to see Henne go deep and have what Ginn does best, STRETCH the field. Everything would open up underneath and the RB's would have enuff room to jive and juke and turnthe corner or bump it outside. Im telling you AGAIN- We need Henne in the game for us to advance deep into the playoffs this year. If Henne is not ready then the Fins aren't ready.
Im not hatin' just the plain truth, Tell Penny, we love him it was a great year, we would like to keep him as a QB or Offensive type coach and be part of this organization and thrive under Parcel's tutleage.
stay tuned for moreREAL bloggin'

Turner was a major underachiever at USC, and I've seen nothing to suggest that his approach has changed in the pros....'tis pity. Mando has squarely identified an area that must concern us all.

Mando -- thanks for being there on a Sunday.

And the receivers will be what they will be. Seems we got a lot with smarts and middling talent, but that might suit Chad P. just fine.


I think you are being too critical of the receiving corps. This is the pre-season after all. The coaching staff are experimenting with a view things and we need to know what these guys are going to do. Most of our key guys aren't playing full games, so it's hard to be true critical of them. I don't believe receiver is a real strength on our team but there's a real good buzz around the team again this year and I like the intensity these guys are bringing into games. Let's not forget we are talking about a couple of rookies and a guy who has played a year in the league. Let's cut thses guys some slack. As for these guys who are for adding Marshall or Nicks....forget it!!

HELLO!!!! This is much ado about nothing. Obviously we dont have Fitzgerald and Boldin out there, weve got a bunch of average, role player types. Theyre all gonna see playing time, and with Chad Pennington as QB and the style of offense we run, we'll be able to pick up first downs just fine (with proper execution). We finished 9th in passing last year...

Are you serious about quoting preseason stats? Come on man, this is just a glorified scrimage against an opponent we will face this year. All of them for that matter. We are the defending AFC Champs with a coaching staff that has a much bigger picture view than you my freind. You said the same stuff last year and we won a lot of games. This is a team sport and if our leadership wanted a dynamic and expensive reciever we would have traded for AB. This team is about to show what a dynamic offensive line can do. Mark my words. The passing game will augment the running game and do what it needs while we grind clock and keep Tom, Peyton, Ryan, Mark, Jake, Ben and the others off the field while we control the clock. We have two very special RB's that work together and we are being built for a strech in Dec and Jan that teams like Denver and NO will never manage. A touchdown is 6 points whether you score it in 2 plays or 15. Id rather keep the D fresh and take 15 doing it. But you go quote your negative stats like usual. We will see who is right.

I agree with you Mando; Turner needs to be more consistent. I guess that's why Hartline was given the start last night; a message to Turner?

I was very impressed by our RBs, LB, OL, and DL - there's a lot of depth there; however, I'm kind of disappointed with Andy Alleman - he just hasn't done anything to win at least a back-up position. Is he playing hurt? I feel very comfortable with Berger, Ndukwe, Murphy and Andrew Gardner as our backups.

Can you emphasize a bit on the TE, and NT positions? How many TEs/ NTs do we usually keep?

Also, do you think DE Ryan Baker was a waste of a pick?


Loved the points you made, man. I think Armando is looking for a problem where there is none.

We were 20-29 passing in the game, dont know about yours Armando but thats pretty darn efficient in my book. Just like as kid my mother use to always tell us, "It doesnt matter who cleans up the mess as long as the job gets done." Armando your worries may be little to do about nothing. Lets wait until we get a few games deep into the regular season before we began to throw stones. What we watch in preseason more often than not has to do with play design.

Nica ryan Baker wasnt a pick he is an undrafted free agent.

Mando, you got one thing right. That is that Chris Williams is a huge liability, almost every kick he fields has some bobble or double clutch involved.

He will be a training camp body until final cuts and history.

As far as dogging our wr's you are way off base. When tuna won a SB with the G men who were his wr's???? Mark ingram and lionel manuel? Yeah... solid but not stars. We will be fine there with the depth at RB, and how our ol and dl are coming together.

You are exactly right bigmikejax. I made a similar comment yesterday. All defenses know that we cannot go deep with pennington and that we can with henne. This is why the defense loosened up when henne came in to play. They knew that they had to respect the deep pass possibility. Thus it paved the way for hilliard to do what he did. Sparano should let henne start thursday and test this theory. Then we will know if it is true or not. I am sure he, like everyone else will see without a doubt that it is true. Only then will we see what we truly have in our receiving core! Henne should go deep early and often if he starts thursday.

this team is on the right track , the new young players are very good, the coach needs to make sure they are ready to play in game day not like last week, fans should slow down for calling for HENNE to start b/c there's no way in hell he surpass chad.Penne 11-5 , last thing when i look at HENNE'S face after making a good play i see something i don't like ,he's not into team concept as the rest of the team.

PS....WE need nj phin to comment on armando's article to give all of us the the bottom line and after that i will know what side i will be on .

It appears you are as negative about this team as last year. Move to Boston. This team is going to the playoffs and further. As far as you, you suck

Mando this was a very informative and well written article. Good Job

Gopats you dont know what side you are on because you only have a half a brain, you moron

Cuban Monarch .

NJ PHIN has the ability to give you the right bottom line about players , drafts and games in just few lines and his brain is all football . so why we can't learn for him and save ourselves the long posts and fights .


You have a 1/2 brain and can think for yourself half of the time. Why would you want someone else to influence your thoughts? Dont you want to figure things out for yourself. I guess not. You are not even human, you are an animal who reacts to its surroundings.

You are a donkey, gopats. A donkey does not think for itself, it does what it is told to do.

cuban, notice i answered you without calling you names .NJ gives facts and views based on long years of football knowledge .he's not giving me a view how to deal w/ pig like you .

question for you pig, do you know more than him ?

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