Big-play Booker

It was shortly after the Dolphins had acquired Marty Booker from Chicago in the Adewale Ogunleye trade, and Booker was being asked about the label of "possession receiver." Booker made it clear then he didn't like the label. He doesn't have to worry about that label anymore because it certainly doesn't apply. On the contrary, Booker has become the Dolphins' deep threat.

The proof is in the numbers. The Dolphins have seven pass plays of 50 yards or more this season, and four of them went to Booker.

The latest was a 50-yard touchdown pass from Sage Rosenfels last Sunday against the Jets that provided the winning margin in the 24-20 victory.

Booker also had a 60-yard touchdown catch in the opener against Denver, a 56-yard reception in the victory at San Diego, and a 52-yard catch in the loss at Buffalo in October.

Thanks to the big plays, Booker is averaging a robust 19 yards per carry -- the highest average of any player in the league with at least 375 yard receiving.

It's also quite a jump from the 12.8-yard average Booker had last season or the 11.8 average he compiled during his first six seasons in the NFL.

Naturally, Booker has benefited from the Dolphins' more open passing game. With two games left in the season, the Dolphins already have more pass plays of at least 40 (11-5) or least 50 yards (7-2) than they did all of last season.

Sunday's touchdown was a great example of the new offense at work.

"We really do have some vertical-type passes that we'd like to implement and execute," Coach Nick Saban said Monday. "Specifically in the case (against the Jets), we always have an option on top of something that it's third down-and-2 and we are trying to get Chris (Chambers) the ball in the flat to get a first down and they roll up hard on him and kind of overplay it. Marty is running a deep pattern and Sage did a good job of reading it and making a big play. The play that (Booker) made in the Chargers game was a little bit of a scramble pass. He got to the sideline, turned it up and Gus saw him.

"But we do have some double patterns deep down the field that are difficult and Marty's patience in running those patterns is a real asset for him."

Booker, in turn, has become a real asset for the Dolphins offense. He's also become much more than a possession receiver.


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