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Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Sparano loves Ginn's offseason development


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

DAVIE, Fla. -- Nobody posed the question at his Tuesday afternoon news conference, so Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano asked himself.

 
  Marc Serota/Getty Images
  Dolphins receiver Ted Ginn has impressed coach Tony Sparano in offseason workouts.
"If you said to me 'Tell me the player that is probably in the seven, eight practices that we've had that has impressed you the most in his growth out there,' I would say Ted Ginn is in the top two right now," Sparano said.

Sparano claimed he and quarterback Chad Pennington still are trying to identify who their go-to target will be, but a couple big hints dropped like anvils.

"I really have seen him be, in some situations, pretty dominant," Sparano said. "So you can see his confidence really is at a high level right now. He's running better, playing a little bit stronger and really understands what's going on around him."

Those statements should get Dolfans excited. They've booed Ginn literally from the moment he joined the team.

They wanted Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn with the ninth overall draft pick in 2007. Instead, they got Ginn.

He was a quicksilver playmaker at Ohio State, but many analysts viewed him as a return specialist and contributor as a receiver. He seemed like a luxury player you might find on a contender, not a rebuilding team that eventually would go 1-15 and fire the general manager and coach who drafted him.

Sparano arrived last year and became one of Ginn's biggest boosters. Sparano likes even more of what he sees so far this spring, noting the way Ginn is "handling himself out there, with the way the whole offense has started to slow down for him a little bit."

If Ginn doesn't become Miami's so-called No. 1 receiver, I don't know who will be. I don't see an alternative on the roster.

Ginn caught a team-high 56 passes last year for 790 yards and two touchdowns, but he likely wouldn't have led the team had slot receiver Greg Camarillo not suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 12.

Camarillo finished with 55 catches for 613 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow slot man Davone Bess had 54 catches for 554 yards and a touchdown.

Ernest Wilford is the only other receiver with noteworthy experience, but he wasn't good enough to get out of his civvies on game days. Brandon London played 14 games last year as a special-teamer, yet caught just three balls.

Miami drafted Patrick Turner in the third round, but he projects as a third-down and red-zone target, and Brian Hartline in the fourth.

"I like our receiving group. I really do," Sparano said. "I think there's several contenders there to be a No. 1 guy, but there's an awful lot of football ahead of us here and an awful lot of opportunity for some of these guys to show us that they can do that."