CAMP COUNTDOWN: WIDE RECEIVERS

As the Dolphins prepare for the start of training camp, we take a close position-by-position look at the roster, including a prediction of who will start and make the 53-man squad. Today we look at the wide receivers.

It's been a long time since the Dolphins' receiving corps would cause headaches for opposing defensive coordinators, probably as far back as the days of Mark Clayton and Mark Duper.

Maybe this is the year the Dolphins finally have that kind of 1-2 punch. Then again, it's a definite maybe.

In Chris Chambers, the Dolphins have an emerging star at wide receiver and he figures to have plenty of extra motivation this year because he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season and big numbers on the field in 2004 would mean big numbers in his next contract.

On the other side, there's David Boston and he's the big question mark.

Physically, this guy is some kind of impressive. He's huge with not an ounce of fat on him and he can fly.

The only problem is that sometimes he gets too big for his own good, his practice habits are said to be so-so at best and he doesn't always produce on the field.

But, clearly, he's much better than anything the Dolphins put on the field opposing Chambers last season.

If he comes up big, look out. The Dolphins are set with their starters and in great shape. If he doesn't, then there's problems.

That's because there's nobody else on the roster who looks like a big-time receiver. And that will be a problem also when it comes to picking out a No. 3 receiver on passing downs.

Right now, it looks like Derrius Thompson will be that guy, but everyone remembers how badly he struggled last season. The Dolphins are happy with his offseason work, but he also shined last year before the real games started.

The other guys on the roster at wide receiver are Bobby Sippio, Willie Johnson, Ronald Bellamy, Carl Morris, Snoop Minnis, Kendall Newson, Sam Simmons, Terrence Wilkins and J.R. Tolver.

Practically everyone on that list is a young player with decent (but not great) potential and little experience.

Hopefully, one of them jumps out and starts making plays. The best bets among that group look like Simmons and Tolver.

Minnis is a former draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, but he's always been injured, which shouldn't be that surprising considering he's rail-thin at 6-1, 170.

The one intriguing guy in the group is former Colts and Rams kick return specialist Terrence Wilkins.

He's coming off a couple of disappointing seasons, but has shown flashes in the past, both as a kick returner and wide receiver.

In a way, he sounds a lot like Charlie Rogers last year, but the Dolphins got him at a great price and anything he produces will be a bonus.

The Dolphins usually will keep five or six wide receivers on the roster and our prediction for this year's group would be Chambers, Boston, Thompson, Simmons and Wilkins.

The starters obviously will be Boston and Chambers.

Next time we'll look at the linebackers.


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