It was assumed that Ted Ginn Jr. and newcomer Ernest Wilford would start at wide receiver for the Dolphins this season, but Hagan certainly made a case himself for a starting job in the first week of camp.
Ask Hagan about whether being the team's No. 1 receiver is a goal of his, and he doesn't hesitate: "Definitely. I'm definitely looking forward to it once preseason and the season starts, obviously to be the No. 1 receiver. That's my goal. I've just to come out and work hard each and every day, and show these coaches that I am that guy, I want to be that guy. I've just got to take it day by day and we'll see what happens from there."
The key for Hagan will be consistent, something that was an issue in his first two seasons.
The former Arizona State star caught 21 and 29 passes, respectively, in 2006 and 2007, but he also dropped too many balls.
But he says things will be different in 2008.
"I look forward to this year being the season," he said. "I'm obviously coming out, working hard and just trying to make plays every single day. Like I said before, I'm trying to take one day at a time and whenever my number is called I'm just trying to make that play."
Hagan's teammates have noticed a difference in him.
"His work habits went up 10 notches," said cornerback Andre' Goodman. "I'm a fan. I told him (this week) I'm a fan. He's so aggressive at the reception point right now. He's catching the ball in crowds, and that's a tough talent to have. And he has it. I'm a Derek Hagan fan right now."
For Hagan, part of the difference is experience, another is having a greater opportunity now with Chris Chambers and Marty Booker both gone, and yet another is having benefited from the tutelage of both Chambers and Booker.
"Those two guys, they're vets, they know the ins and outs of the game. When I came in, I knew how to watch film, but I didn't KNOW how to watch film like they do," Hagan said. "Obviously, we'd be in there watching film for like three, four, five hours and just watching so many different things and staying after practice doing little things, just catching 100, 200, 300 balls after practice. That's definitely something I've taken on and trying to show these other guys. It was just great to have that.
"Most of the time your rookie season is your learning curve and now going into my third year I'm not playing behind anybody, I'm not playing behind two former Pro Bowl players. I've watched, I've learned from those guys and those guys are gone, and now it's my time. The Dolphins drafted me for a reason, obviously they like what I did in college, that was a while ago now, but the time is now and I'm definitely looking forward to it."