The Dolphins lost a very good receiver with great hands, great ability in the red zone and the ability to make spectular catches when Oronde Gadsden sustained ligament damage in his left wrist against Denver. What they got in replacement Cris Carter is a great receiver with great hands, great ability in the red zone and the ability to make spectacular catches.

In other words, the Dolphins got basically the same player, except a little better.

And this is no knock on Gadsden, who has been a tremendous player for the Dolphins for the last couple of years.

But Gadsden isn't going to the Hall of Fame; Carter is.

Yes, Carter is 36 years old and will turn 37 in late November, but he still caught 73 passes for the Vikings last year, which was 18 more than the Dolphins' co-leaders in that department, Gadsden and James McKnight.

Dolphins senior vice president Rick Spielman said the team watched tape of Carter's final season in Minnesota and didn't notice any downfall in his play.

And really, there was none. This a guy who has always kept himself in great shape, so you figure he'll be ready to go before too long and should perform at or close to the same level he's always been.

Make no mistake, Carter will be in the starting lineup the second he's up to speed with the offense and he's in game shape, and we're guessing that happens by the next game, Nov. 4 at Green Bay.

And the second he steps into the lineup, he becomes the Dolphins' best receiver. Chris Chambers may be more talented than Carter, but until he fully refines his game, he still has to catch up to the veteran.

So from an ability standpoint, this move was a slam dunk. Carter is so much better than any of the six wide receivers the Dolphins brought in for workouts last week — Sean Dawkins, Na Brown, Chris Sanders, Chris Coleman, Chris Jackson and Reidel Anthony — it's not even funny.

The only question mark about Carter was the character issue.

That was brought up because of a couple of sideline incidents last year when Carter was seen yelling at teammates.

Carter pointed out on Monday that on one of those occasions he actually was encouraging Randy Moss, not chastising him. Moss had just backpedaled into the end zone on a touchdown catch when Carter started talking to him. But Carter wasn't criticizing Moss for showboating, he was telling Moss should be scoring touchdowns all the time and Moss was saying, "Yeah, you're right."

So that leaves one bad incident on the sideline.

Is that enough to label a guy a trouble maker? The Dolphins checked into Carter's character thoroughly and decided that wasn't even an issue.

Why should it be? Carter is excited about the possibility of playing on a contender for the only team he said he would have come back for.

He's happy to be with the Dolphins and the Dolphins are happy to have him.

Say what you want about the Dolphins, but regardless of what happens this season nobody can accuse them of not going for it.

And in the end isn't that all any fan can ask for?

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