Dolphins coach Tony Sparano says the one thing he loves about receiver Greg Camarillo is that he always "shows up."
Sparano meant that Camarillo gives his quarterback a target, gets open for him and shows up for big games like Sunday's, when he led the team with six catches for 75 yards. Sadly, the Dolphins' leading receiver won't be showing up for any more games this season after blowing out his left knee in the emotionally charged 48-28 loss to the Patriots.
The loss not only ended Miami's four-game winning streak, but it also dropped the Dolphins back to 6-5 and a tie with the Bills for last place in the AFC East, both looking up at the 8-3 Jets and 7-4 Patriots. But after an amazing streak of health, the Dolphins were finally bit by the injury bug when Camarillo went down while trying to tackle Brandon Meriweather after the New England safety intercepted a Chad Pennington pass in the fourth quarter.
"There are a lot of times I can come in here with you and I can use Greg Camarillo as an example," Sparano said. "I can do that with my team, too, indirectly. I don't have to say, 'Hey, Greg, come on up here.' This guy here, they just kind of get it. You can see it, you can point it out on film what this guy has done and the way he goes about his business. Me being able to use him as an example that way, he's one of the leaders out there in a quiet way because he is very friendly to the quarterback kind of like (Wes) Welker is on the other side for them.
"He just shows up, just shows up, just shows up."
Expected to pick up the slack is undrafted rookie receiver Davone Bess, who started in a three-wide package and had a career day with five catches for 87 yards. Bess has 24 catches for 275 yards with one TD. He mostly handles slot duties, but he could be teamed with Ted Ginn Jr. on the outside this Sunday against the Rams' 21st-ranked pass defense.
"I'm always ready when my number is called. This is an opportunity to step up," Bess said. "Too bad it had to be in this type of situation, losing a key guy. Wherever coaches want me, where they need me, I'm ready to step up."
Camarillo, 26, had just received a three-year extension for about $6 million that included an unknown signing bonus. He's most known for his game-winning, 64-yard TD catch that beat the Ravens in overtime last season and prevented the Dolphins from being the first-ever 0-16 team, something the Detroit Lions might attain this season. Camarillo will need about nine months of rehabilitation.
If the speedy Bess remains the slot receiver, it's possible that Sparano will finally activate disappointing free agent acquisition Ernest Wilford, who has been active in only two games and has just one catch for 15 yards.
Another option is special teams stalwart Brandon London, who also has one catch for 6 yards -- his first NFL reception. London, who toiled on the Giants practice squad all last season, could be a factor at receiver this week. Like Wilford, London is 6-foot-4, but he's faster and more useful on special teams.
"Ernest Wilford has been getting better and better every single week on the practice field," Sparano said. "London has been doing some good things. Maybe not as consistent as I'd like it right now, particularly from a special teams standpoint. Even in practice sometimes, (London has) got to be a little bit more consistent. He plays a bit young sometimes, but he's getting better."
--WR Davone Bess had a career-high five catches for 87 yards Sunday. It was the most receiving yards by a Dolphins rookie since December 2001, when Chris Chambers collected seven catches for 124 yards against the Patriots. "He's caught the ball in the middle of the field, made some big first downs (Sunday). It was good to see him run after the catch," coach Tony Sparano said.
--LB Joey Porter was mostly neutralized Sunday, but he did notch one sack, giving him an NFL-high 14.5. It also broke the record for sacks by a Dolphins linebacker, previously held by Bryan Cox, who had 14 in 1992. Porter committed two personal-foul infractions on the Patriots final drive and refused to come out of the game even though coach Tony Sparano and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni were yelling at him to do so.
Regarding Porter's insubordination and Channing Crowder's role in a fight, Sparano said, "These guys are competitors. There's a right and a wrong way to do things. We have a standard here right now that we're trying to put in place, and for 10 solid games we've done that. (Sunday) we kind of got off path a little bit for about eight minutes, and that's not good enough. It has to be addressed."
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