DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -The Miami Dolphins have discovered another use for Ted Ginn Jr., the speedy rookie drafted to stretch defenses, return kicks and pose a touchdown threat every time he touches the ball.
Ginn's newest niche: possession receiver.
Miami's first-round pick had his best preseason game yet Saturday, making short catches to convert third- and fourth-down situations against Tampa Bay's first-team defense.
``They called my number, so I had to get open for my quarterback,'' Ginn said. ``And that's what I did. It felt good to get into the action.''
The former Ohio State star finished with three receptions for 29 yards - modest totals, but a sign of progress.
At the start of training camp, coach Cam Cameron tried to temper expectations for the rookie receiver, saying Ginn would be used primarily on special teams. Ginn made only one catch in the first two exhibition games and had little impact on special teams.
A quadriceps strain may have been a factor, and while the injury lingers, his profile was higher against the Buccaneers. During the one quarter Miami's first-team offense played, Ginn assumed a prominent role as the third receiver behind starters Chris Chambers and Marty Booker.
``He came in and did a good job,'' Chambers said. ``He grew from the first to the second to the third game. He runs good routes. He has great hands. He's going to come along. It's good to see him grow.''
Ginn will likely see extensive action in the final exhibition game Thursday at New Orleans, allowing further exploration of ways to take advantage of his speed.
Besides throwing him the ball deep in practice, the Dolphins give it to him on screens and end-arounds. Quarterback Trent Green faked a handoff to Ginn on Saturday, and Miami passed to him four times, all in the first half.
Ginn's receptions went for 11, 4 and 14 yards, each resulting in a first down.
``We're just trying to get Ted more and more involved as he gets more comfortable with the offense,'' Green said. ``We are going to continue to try and find ways to get him the ball. I think it was pretty evident he looked a lot more comfortable out there.''
One example of Ginn's adjustment to the NFL: He took a solid hit from Ronde Barber on the fourth-down play.
Ginn smiled at the suggestion defenders rarely caught him in college.
``It's a different league,'' he said. ``Everybody here is fast.''
There's an extra onus on Ginn because the Dolphins' draft record has been so spotty in recent years, and because many Miami fans were upset the team chose him instead of Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn.
Ginn's pro career seemed headed in reverse when he lost the kickoff-return job soon after training camp began. Cameron said he wanted the rookie to concentrate on punt returns.
``You've got to be good at one before you're good at two,'' Cameron said. ``There is a plan and a process, and then I think you try to speed up the learning curve as the season goes along.''
Ginn ran back six punts for touchdowns at Ohio State, but he has yet to look like Devin Hester during the exhibition season, totaling 7 yards on four punt returns.
``He's a natural catching the ball,'' Cameron said. ``Now he's got to get used to how quickly they're on top of him, and that doesn't happen overnight.''
The Dolphins would love for Ginn to make instant impact as they try to end a five-year playoff drought and enliven a sputtering offense. But he's only 22 and turned pro after his junior season at Ohio State, and Cameron is determined not to overload the rookie.
For now, short receptions by Ginn for first downs will do fine.
``He's growing,'' Cameron said. ``These aren't excuses, these are just facts. Here's a guy who would be playing college football this year if he wanted to. We're bringing him along.''
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