|Ted Ginn Jr. aiming to be Dolphins No. 1 receiver|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 20 August 2008 11:25|
For the first time in his NFL career, the Miami Dolphins' speedy receiver is living up to his high draft billing - albeit in the preseason. The arrival of quarterbacks Chad Pennington and rookie Chad Henne has given a boost to Ginn, who many had considered one of the biggest busts of the previous Dolphins regime.
``It's a new year,'' Ginn said. ``We have new coaches and new guys all over. I've been working hard to get better. So in a lot of ways, I feel like a new player.''
Call it the Chad Effect, but Ginn finally displayed the go-to-skills of a top receiver in last week's preseason game at Jacksonville, with four catches for 58 yards in the first half of Pennington's debut.
The slender, 5-foot-11 Ginn fearlessly zigzagged across the middle - where hard-hitting defensive backs await and where he was reluctant to take a hit as a rookie. He made diving catches of 22 and 17 yards from Pennington, and he nearly had a 43-yarder down the sideline on an over-the-shoulder grab from Henne but was ruled out of bounds.
``Yeah, how about them Chads?'' Ginn joked.
If nothing else, Ginn has his swagger back.
He wears his socks high and his jersey long, tiptoeing around the Dolphins' practice field like he owns it. His demeanor is calm, and he's been the top target for Pennington and Henne during training camp.
But can he be a No. 1 receiver?
``Every day I go out and I practice like I'm trying to be the No. 1 receiver,'' Ginn said. ``I've just got to continue to keep doing it.''
Ginn's arrival in Miami was rocky from the start.
His selection from Ohio State as the ninth overall pick in 2007 created by far the biggest buzz on draft day at the Dolphins' headquarters. Most fans there thought he wasn't worth the pick, and that Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn was.
Miami fans even booed then-coach Cam Cameron when he emerged to make the announcement.
Ginn, who was often criticized for his inability to create separation, ended last season with 34 catches for 420 yards. He was touted as a premier kick returner, but managed only one punt return for a touchdown - hardly production most in Miami thought was worthy of a top pick.
``Ted has been working on his route running, and it's all coming together,'' said receiver Derek Hagan, who has started opposite Ginn in the preseason. ``We've just got to be patient. People got to understand it takes time.''
With veterans Chris Chambers and Marty Booker gone, Ginn and Hagan, in his third NFL season, are the longest-tenured Miami receivers.
The rest of the unit lacks big names: Ernest Wilford, David Kircus, Greg Camarillo, and rookies Davone Bess, Jayson Foster and Anthony Armstrong. Suddenly, Ginn has gone from a confused rookie to the guy players ask for help.
``Ted is still a big kid, but it's definitely great to have somebody who's actually been there and experienced,'' Bess said. ``Everybody hasn't had too much experience, so the experience we do get we share with each other and we try to learn from mistakes and get better as a unit. He had a great game, and it's definitely something we have to feed off of and get motivated by.''
Ginn came to Miami with a big-play reputation, but he had only one catch of at least 35 yards last season. He had an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown against Philadelphia, one of his few rookie highlights.
This season, he's hoping those big plays aren't so rare.
``That's what I was brought here to do,'' Ginn said. ``No matter who the quarterback is, I think I can do that if I just keep working.''