Reporting Tim Kephart
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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins struggled to get any semblance of an offense going Friday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The struggle will be more difficult after Chad Johnson’s alleged antics cost him his job.
According to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald, the Dolphins ran a first-team corps of wide receivers Sunday that included Legedu Naanee, Roberto Wallace, and Davone Bess. Combined, the group pulled in 95 passes for 1,004 yards and four touchdowns last season.
Just to underscore what NFL insiders believe about the Fins receivers; SI.com’s Peter King described the Dolphins receivers like this in his Monday Morning Quarterback column: “Could this be the worst receiving corps in the NFL? Could be, unless wing-and-a-prayer wideouts like Legedu Naanee and Roberto Wallace, at least one of them, come through.”
Bess led the group with 51 catches for 537 yards and 3 touchdowns. Naanee was the other major contributor catching 44 passes for 467 yards and one touchdown. Other than that, the Dolphins receivers corps is unknown and unproven.
“I wish we caught the ball better this morning,” Fins head coach Joe Philbin said Monday. “My job is to develop players. That’s what we get paid to do. Part of it is we have to make good decisions on what we have at the roster at this time.”
Brian Hartline was expected to be a key contributor, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough to get on the field for training camp. Even adding Hartline to the group would only add 35 catches for 549 yards and one touchdown last season.
Hartline averaged two catches per game last year, but did go for roughly 15.7 yards per catch when he did find the football.
When it came to what Coach Philbin wanted to see from his current crop of receivers, he was honest, yet humorous about the simple thing he wants.
“Catch the ball consistently. Get separation. Catch the ball consistently,” Philbin said to laughter from the media Monday morning.
The receiving corps problems will put much more of a focus on the Dolphins’ tight ends. Last year, starter Anthony Fasano caught 32 passes for 451 yards and 5 touchdowns. He’s likely to see even more action in the passing game thanks to a bigger focus on working tight ends over the middle.
The Fins were hoping for rookie tight end Michael Egnew to develop into a seam threat, but he has been largely invisible in practice and could be following the theme of Missouri tight ends of thrive in the spread and then can’t cut it as an NFL-caliber tight end.
Needless to say, whether it’s Ryan Tannehill or Matt Moore who is under center for the first regular season game; they may have to be spot-on perfect to make the offense hum with the current crop of receivers not named Davone Bess.