Dolphins' Ginn at back of rookie class
DAVIE — Three players selected just before Dolphins receiver Ted Ginn Jr. in the first round of April's NFL Draft, and three taken right after him, are all starters in the NFL.
The next receiver drafted after No. 9 pick Ted Ginn Jr., Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe at No. 23, has scored a touchdown in three straight games. Third-round receiver James Jones has 18 catches and a touchdown for Green Bay.
Ted Ginn Jr.? The player whose selection was jeered by Dolphins fans on draft day is a second-stringer who rarely appears on offense. Used almost exclusively to return kickoffs and punts, Ted Ginn Jr. has one catch for 15 yards and two rushes for 4 yards for the 0-4 Dolphins. Coach Cam Cameron continues to stress patience for Ted Ginn Jr. as he learns the playbook and adjusts to the NFL.
"There is only one football out there," Cameron said. "His opportunities will come."
Still, drafted for his speed and playing for a team struggling at receiver, Ted Ginn Jr. isn't running many routes and has had only three balls thrown his way.
"Of all the positions, receiver is one place that you should be able to come in early and play," said Tom Marino, an NFL scout for more than 30 years who now works for the Web site Scout.com. "Obviously, something is missing if they're not doing that right now."
Ted Ginn Jr., who tied an NCAA record with eight career touchdowns on returns at Ohio State, also has had no impact on special teams, averaging 7 yards per return on punts and 22 on kickoffs.
Fans still seething because they wanted the Dolphins to take Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn at No.'9 now can work themselves into even more of a lather over the Ted Ginn Jr. pick.
The Dolphins' once-vaunted defense is last in the league against the run and putting little pressure on quarterbacks. Sunday, the Dolphins face the Houston Texans who with the No. 10 pick chose Louisville's Amobi Okoye, a defensive tackle who already has four sacks.
Then, at No. 11, the San Francisco 49ers took linebacker Patrick Willis, who is averaging nearly 10 tackles per game.
For his part, Ted Ginn Jr., 22, said he's not concerned about statistics but he is frustrated about sitting on the sideline while rookies contribute across the league.
"I expect a lot out of me," he said. "Everybody wishes they could just get a fade (route), or the quarterback would just throw a deep ball for six. That's just everybody's thinking, and if you keep thinking about that, it's going to happen."
Ted Ginn Jr. was blessed with natural talent. In a high school game he scored a touchdown five different ways - throwing, rushing, receiving, interception and kick return - and he was the 2003 USA Today Defensive Player of the Year as a cornerback.
He didn't become a receiver until he arrived at Ohio State in 2003, but what he lacked in polish he more than made up for in speed. The NFL, however, demands precision pass routes and the ability to read and adjust to defensive schemes.
"It's a lot to deal with. That's why it takes receivers a couple of years to get acclimated to the game," said Dolphins receiver and nine-year veteran Marty Booker. "You really can't play the way you normally play because you're out there thinking too much."
Ted Ginn Jr. was diagnosed with a learning disability in eighth grade, a condition he struggled to overcome and did so enough to become an honor student in high school. He said it still takes him twice as long as most people to read and comprehend some material.
"I'm not ashamed of it," Ted Ginn Jr. said. "Everyone's different. I just learn slower than everyone else."
Still, draft analyst Jamie Newberg of Scout.com wonders why the Dolphins haven't made Ted Ginn Jr. a simple part of their offense.
"Even if he can't learn the playbook, he knows how to run a fly or a post or a quick screen," Newberg said. "Why aren't they running him on 10 post patterns a game, hoping to hit one?"
Receiver Chris Chambers, a Dolphins' second-round pick in 2001 and a Pro Bowler in '05, is mentoring his childhood friend and also preaching patience.
"People don't know he's progressing. That's the problem," Chambers said. "He's doing a lot less thinking. He's playing a lot faster in practice, and it's going to carry over."
Ted Ginn Jr. does believe he is improving with each week of practice and he's eager to prove his skeptics wrong.
"If you keep making the plays that you make on the practice field, it's going to turn over to the game," he said. "It's just taking some time right now."
Read more at www.palmbeachpost.com