The following article was published in 2003 by Denis Savage of the SDBoltReport.com. It is being republished here to give Patriots fans an idea of the position battle receivers Reche Caldwell and Tim Dwight faced when vying for a job behind David Boston in 2003. The Chargers had a need to fill at the wide receiver position similar to what the Patriots face now. The following is an insight into the challenges both players faced three seasons ago.
Vying for Number Two
By Denis Savage
May 14, 2003
Speculation over who will start opposite David Boston in the San Diego Chargers base offense is running rampant. Everyone has an opinion, even if they are wrong. From Reche Caldwell to Tim Dwight and even some Eric Parker fans mixed in. What concoction will be on tap when the season begins?
Playing it safe the competition to play second fiddle to David Boston will come down to Reche Caldwell vs. Tim Dwight. Some may be disturbed by the inclusion of either player vying for that crucial spot, others may see it as just. The facts are the facts, and there are no other valid options at this point.
Tim Dwight was the default number two last season. He posted decent numbers with 50 receptions for 623 yards but only managed two touchdowns (some of us will never forget nor forgive him for missing touchdown number three in St. Louis). Considering he only accumulated five receptions in the first four games those numbers are not half bad.
|Tim Dwight, Patriots WR/KR in 2005|
More importantly Dwight showed his mettle in the return game when finally given the opportunity, too late in the season. He returned 19 punts averaging over 12 yards a return. It is a safe bet to assume he will again return punts in 2003.
Reche Caldwell playing as a rookie caught 22 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns playing in the third receiver slot. All three touchdown catches came in Charger wins. Yet how can one forget the fumble in Kansas City that ended a season on the brink.
Caldwell also returned nine kickoffs averaging 24.4 yards per return. He figures to be among a few potentials returning kicks this coming season.
Tim Dwight has proven, despite his height, he can and will block with the best of them. Blocking is a staple of Marty Schottenheimer offenses, and when you have LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield carrying the rock, blocking from the receivers is that much more crucial.
He hustles, and plays his heart out regardless of how tall he is. That is an intangible he brings. Streaking down the field to throw a block 50 yards downfield, you guys all know the play.
18 of his 22 third down receptions went for first downs, more first downs than all other downs combined. Only seven of his catches were inside the red zone. Eleven came against the 2nd worst pass defense in the league, Kansas City.
What does this all mean? He can create mismatches when there are more receivers in the game.
|Reche Caldwell, Patriots WR in 2006|
Reche Caldwell went through the first four games catch-less and his first meaningful catch was in Kansas City, a touchdown reception late in the game that proved to be the difference. He has proved to be a rather consistent blocker in the running game, something that will get him more time on the field in the future.
Caldwell had a tough first year. Despite playing in all 16 games he was held without a catch a total of seven times. He suffered severe mental lapses that showed in his route running and the ball was just not being thrown his way because of it. Not only was his route running poor, he seemed a bit lethargic at times. Over the course of the season he had three fumbles a sign of lack of concentration on his part.
Receivers Coach James Lofton worked with Caldwell throughout the season and finally towards the end of the season he showed the progress they had hoped to see. Caldwell admitted he could not get complacent and realized he really did have to work harder than he ever had.
Caldwell had 8 catches over the final two weeks of the season, finally finding some rhythm. He was getting open by training, watching film and rededicating himself.
Nine of his 12 second down receptions went for first downs, a good sign for a base offense.
Caldwell is still trying to break the voodoo curse haunting Florida receivers. It's as if they need a sign reading, "Warning - Objects Are Not As Good As They Appear."
"You can't help but be aware of the fact that some have not fared as well in the pros as they did in college," said new Jaguars coach Jack del Rio.
Looking strictly at the numbers the spot goes to Reche Caldwell. Why you ask?
Considering the bulk of his production came during running downs you have to give the number two spot to him. He is bigger, will be able to block cornerbacks more effectively, giving room to LT, and thus freeing himself up for more play-action-pass. He also has shown he can be productive against the better cornerbacks who are on the field all four downs, not just in nickel situations. Add to it the extra three inches he provides to a relatively short Drew Brees and his place is secure as long as he produces.
Dwight saw better production against nickel backs. He has the speed to outrun them and nickel backs tend to be slightly shorter. That would explain his excellent production on third down. Playing the slot, he is able to get separation on crossing routes and has a knack for getting the yardage necessary for a first down.
In this way each guy has his talents used to their fullest potential.
The deciding factor is what Marty Schottenheimer had to say back in February, We have an excellent young player in Reche Caldwell, a guy who made excellent progress throughout the course of the season. We have a young player like that; you want to give him an opportunity to play. Reche is now our starting split end.
Schottenheimer has proven his vague words do carry a lot of weight. He got his speed on defense, and now he will have Caldwell starting opposite David Boston.
This article was reprinted from a 2003 story originally published by SDBoltReport.com. You can find other articles like it in the archives for each team. If you are looking for player specific articles, you can search the archives for each player found in the team's roster section.