On the Bess Bandwagon?

Coach Tony Sparano took offense Wednesday at the suggestion the Dolphins wide receivers had a rough opener against the New York Jets, but it was hard to believe him if you saw the game. But Sparano was right when he pointed out that rookie free agent Davone Bess made the most of his opportunities.

Bess had one catch for 8 yards against the Jets, but his highlight came when he returned a punt 25 yards in the first half. That came after he gained 21 yards on his only kickoff return.

Bess was replaced by Ted Ginn Jr. on punt returns after his one return and he also never got another chance to return kickoffs because the Jets never kicked off deep after the first one.

In explaining why he used Bess before going to Ginn on punt returns, Sparano said Bess got the chance because of his ability to make tacklers miss.

Bess also impressed his coach by going upfield immediately after making his one reception, which happened on a pass that was thrown behind him.

The last part really shouldn't surprise anyone who watched Bess throughout the summer. He has shown from the time he joined the Dolphins tremendous football acumen.

On punt returns, he's also shown tremendous quickness and quick decision-making in choosing a path. Really, the question wasn't whether Bess was used, but rather why Sparano switched to Ginn at all.

Ginn has more pure speed than Bess, and it's not even close. But Ginn also doesn't seem to have Bess' flair and it's also interesting to note that Bess fielded his punt at the Dolphins 5-yard line, whereas Ginn was in the game when it was the Jets who were backed up. So one can't help but wonder whether Sparano just felt more comfortable with Bess handling a punt near the Dolphins goal line.

Because of his performance, Sparano said Bess just might see more action in the future, and that would only make sense.

Bess doesn't have the pure breakaway speed to be a great kickoff returner, but he's probably just as good there as anybody on the roster. In terms of punt returns, he just might be a better option than Ginn, even though he's not the threat to take it all the way anytime that Ginn is.

We're thinking in the long term, Bess just might be a better punt returner because of his superior decision-making.

At receiver, it's not even close, Bess needs to play more. We've talked about the Dolphins' problems at the position ad nauseum and we're not saying Bess is the end-all, be-all, but on a team lacking options, he's a better choice than many of his teammates.

Ginn really struggled to get open against the Jets, Derek Hagan has never shown any consistency and Ernest Wilford was inactive against the Jets.

That leaves Greg Camarillo, who's a lot like Bess in that he has good football acumen but doesn't have the ideal speed for a wide receiver.

As we've said before, it just might be that right now Camarillo and Bess are the two best receivers on the team. One thing for sure, Bess has done everything that has been asked of him and there's really no reason not to increase his workload.


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