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The reason Patrick Turner hasn't played

Many of you have asked me over and over why Patrick Turner isn't active on Sundays because you continue to be frustrated by other Miami receivers that don't necessarily light up scoreboards or stat sheets with explosive plays.

Well, today I asked coach Tony Sparano his reasoning for not having Turner active and that resulted in some interesting stuff.

First, Sparano promises Turner's day is coming. He doesn't want this season to end without having a grasp of whether Turner is a possible contributor long term or not.

But, secondly, Sparano really likes what his current crop of receivers bring to the table -- yes, it's hard to believe, but stay with me on this.

"Pat is getting better, but it also has a lot to do with the other players and the jobs they do and how they're doing in the game," Sparano said Wednesday. "I mean Davone Bess is second in the NFL to the guy in New York [Steve Smith] in third-down receptions. OK? Well, [Greg] Camarillo is 10 of 10 [on third down] right now. He's had 10 balls thrown at him right now and he's converted 10 of them. So he's eighth on that list.

"We think they don't make plays but those guys are making plays. It's one of the reasons we're second in the league on third down conversion. Teddy [Ginn] is a return guy for us that's been getting better and better at it. Ginn, I thought had a good game the other day returning the football and is also a receiver that can make a big play for us.

"And [Brian] Hartline has been productive out there in a lot of phases. What you don't see is Hartline is in there about 8 to 10 plays on special teams and has been productive there, too."

So it becomes hard, in Sparano's mind, to bench one of the four guys already playing ahead of Turner. And playing five is pretty much out of the question at the moment.

"We're not going to take five to the game at this second," the coach said. "I don't feel like that's a good deal right at this time. You never know. That can change. But somebody's got to stay back. At this point it's been Pat. But I do want to get Patrick Turner involved."

Let's hope so because regardless of how much the other guys are bringing to the game, it simply has not been good enough. The Dolphins are 29th in the NFL passing the football. That is, well, terrible.

Miami wide receivers have combined for two touchdowns this year. I count 26 individual receivers among the NFL's top 60 scorers that have at least four TDs. There are 37 individual receivers with at least three touchdowns. Like, by themselves. 

My opinion?

The Dolphins love special teams contribution but the contribution they're talking about with Hartline is not game-changing. He's not going to take a punt to the house. He hasn't made a TD-saving tackle. He has not blocked a kick. So would the Miami special teams collapse if Hartline isn't playing Sunday? I don't think so.

Turner, on the other hand, might be a solid red zone threat and a tough matchup against almost any cornerback. I have no clue how well he's improved his blocking (which needed improvement) but the idea of a 6-5, 220-pound perimeter blocker doing work downfield is enticing to me.

Anyway, at some point, Sparano promises Turner will get a looksee. 

"I want to get him involved," he said. "He's got to keep working in practice like he is and at some point his number is going to get called."

By the way, Sparano disagrees with anyone who believes Miami's passing game problems are mostly found in the WR corps. Aside from being 29th in passing, the club is also 29th in passing net yards per play, suggesting no one is picking up YAC (yards after catch).

The fact is the Dolphins are the only team in the NFL whose passing game could be described as "Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust."

But the coach says the receivers aren't exceedingly responsible for the passing game problems.

"I wouldn't say too much," Sparano said. "I would say part of it is we're fourth in the league or third in the league in rushing so we've run it a bunch. We've had a lot rushing opportunities. I think there's a lot of people responsible for why you don't throw it. Right now we have 23 sacks -- that's responsible for why you don't do well throwing it.

"There's a lot of elements involved. The quarterback's involved. The receivers are involved, no doubt about it. We've had some dropped balls, some unexecuted route depths, those type of things are things from the receiver position that can be different."

Gotta be different, actually.

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Injury update: Paul Soliai (ankle), Joey Porter (knee), Justin Smiely (shoulder) and Erik Walden (hamstring) did not practice Tuesday. Anthony Fasano (hip) was limited. Channing Crowder and Jason Ferguson are back to full practice.

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