HYDE: Dolphins need top-pick Ginn to make some noise
As a rookie receiver, Ted Ginn Jr. says there are three things he really has to concentrate on every play. He's pretty sure of that number. He's holds up three fingers to stress the point.
First, there's the play itself coming at him in a language that could be Swedish it's still so convoluted to his rookie ear. Second, he needs to pick out of the verbiage where to line up. Third, there's his job, the route to run or defender to block.
"You've got to read the defense, too," he says.
Uh, that's four things.
Ted Ginn Jr. stands here, at his locker, a minute before a punt-team meeting starts. He smiles.
"Maybe it's four things," he says.
So goes the learning curve in the first days for most NFL rookies, Ted Ginn Jr. included. Gears shift. Levers pull. Fog rolls in and back out. And that's just from thinking about everything in the locker room.
"When I see him get in his stance, there's smoke coming out of his ears [from all the thinking]," receivers coach Terry Robiskie said.
The opening week of Dolphins training camp, Ted Ginn Jr. looked unsettled to the point insiders wondered if he had reported out of shape or wasn't ready for the South Florida heat. But in the past few days there have been the first twitches of recognition.
That burst of speed. That shake of quickness. Still, Robiskie walked off the practice field with Ted Ginn Jr. on Tuesday morning emphasizing the need to keep working because, "there have been just one or two times where you've seen him take off and go," he said.
The point is, that's fine. It's normal. It's early August, not early September or late November. No doubt the same people who were in a lather over Ted Ginn Jr.'s injured foot on draft day will be shouting if he's not Mark Duper in Saturday night's preseason opener.
Tuesday, as Brady Quinn signed in Cleveland, seemed a fitting day to check in on Ted Ginn Jr.. Their comparative storyline is obvious. The litmus test to this new Dophins regime is, too. Ted Ginn Jr. and John Beck have to be good, if not better.
"My overall goal is to be great," Ted Ginn Jr. said.
Ultimately, Ted Ginn Jr.'s greatness will be judged by touchdowns. That's the measure of great receivers more than catches or yards. As Robiskie says, "Lots of guys catch lots of balls. I like the ones that get in the end zone."
Oh, Ted Ginn Jr.'s speed will impact games in subtle ways. Last year, opposing safeties lined up only 15 yards deep, showing they had no fear of the Dolphins' home run game. That clogged running lanes. So as safeties move deeper to counter Ted Ginn Jr.'s speed, he becomes running back Ronnie Brown's ally.
But the threat is only real if Ted Ginn Jr. proves to be real. Receiver is a position that offers instant impact, too. You might not figure this by the Dolphins' initial depth chart.
The starting center is a rookie, Samson Satele, a statement of need. Remember, Hall of Fame centers Dwight Stephenson and Jim Langer never started as rookies.
Another rookie, Drew Mormino, gets listed as starting guard. That's as much a statement that two-year starter Rex Hadnot needs to play better.
Then there's Ted Ginn Jr., who isn't listed as starter anywhere but as a punt returner. Cameron talks of having five offensive downs with Ted Ginn Jr. handling punts and kickoffs. The Dolphins haven't had that kind of aggressive philosophy since Jake Scott never once called a fair catch in his six Dolphins seasons.
But if the Dolphins are to be successful, they need Ted Ginn Jr. to catch touchdowns. They need him to impact defensive schemes. They need him to open holes that weren't always there. And they need all of this from the season opener in five weeks.
The guy who resembles Ted Ginn Jr. the most, Joey Galloway, had seven touchdowns as a Seattle rookie. Galloway and Ted Ginn Jr. attended Ohio State and have the same size and speed. Each were drafted by Randy Mueller.
Galloway is in his 12th year. You'd take that future for Ted Ginn Jr.. For now, there are lessons to be learned. His voice, for instance. Ted Ginn Jr. is so soft-spoken that when he yells, "Peter! Peter!" under a punt to signal teammates to get away, they sometimes can't hear him.
"I'm thinking about that, too," he says.
For the record, you'll know he's arrived when he's not thinking so hard.
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