The Receiver Battle

As the Dolphins prepare for their last preseason game, it appears that all but one of the starting spots have been decided. The one apparently still up for grabs is the wide receiver position opposite Ted Ginn Jr.

It actually might be more accurate to call that spot wide open because it looks like three players still have a shot, those three being second-year player Davone Bess, 2008 opening-day starter Greg Camarillo and rookie Brian Hartline.

It was Hartline who started last Thursday night against Tampa Bay, but there's been no indication about who will start against the Saints.

Camarillo took some practice reps with the first-team offense this week, but Coach Tony Sparano dismissed the significance of it as saying the Dolphins have just been rotating guys and it was Camarillo's turn.

The truth is all three players have their unique qualities and some drawbacks as well.

Let's start with Hartline, who might have the best speed of the three and also has the best size. But as a rookie he's also more raw than either Bess or Camarillo.

Camarillo has good enough size and a knack for getting open and Sparano often has referred to him as "quarterback-friendly." But he's also not a burner, and that lack of ideal speed showed up against Tampa Bay when he easily was caught from behind after breaking free on his 52-yard reception.

Finally, there's Bess, a tremendous route runner with dependable hands and also a knack for getting open. But Bess is smaller than ideal and he doesn't have the speed to compensate for that.

Sparano was asked Tuesday whether all the juggling at wide receiver was worrisome because it signaled the lack of a clear No. 2 or whether he liked the balance it suggested.

"I think it's a good thing," Sparano said. I think right now a lot of the shuffling that's going' on out there is, is done via us, and I kind of like it. I think it's healthy, I think it breeds competition at that position. You know, this group has been pretty affective by committee, so I kind of like that. I think in my head right now, I'm closing in on people that I think are second and third and all those things, as we get to the end of this."

Our best guess is that Sparano probably has a pretty good idea who'll start on opening day against Atlanta, but the bottom line is that Bess, Camarillo and Hartline all figure to play prominent roles for the Dolphins in 2009.


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