Miami WR Turner makes fine first impression

May, 1, 2009
5/01/09
8:37
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

DAVIE, Fla. -- Pat White's first Miami Dolphins practice didn't go well.

The West Virginia scat quarterback completed one of his six attempts in seven-on-seven drills Friday at Dolphins rookie camp. A couple passes were dropped, but he misfired on five straight. He threw an interception.

White ended his day with a long, arcing pass down the left sideline to practice squad receiver Anthony Armstrong, who got behind second-round pick Sean Smith in 11-on-11 drills.

White garnered most of the media attention because he represents so many fun possibilities for the Wildcat offense. The Dolphins drafted him in the second round last weekend and promptly cut John Beck, considered the future franchise quarterback a mere 24 months ago.

But the rookie who stood out most of all was the receiver who didn't appear on any mock drafts but was mocked as a reach by draft analysts.

Granted, it was the first day of a long NFL journey, but Southern California receiver Patrick Turner didn't do anything to show he wasn't worth the third-round pick Miami used on him.

My untrained eyes were drawn to Turner. While the other receivers seemed to be fending off nerves and bobbling passes -- Ohio State's Brian Hartline made a couple of great grabs, though -- Turner's soft hands caught everything so effortlessly.

"It goes all the way back to playing catch in the back yard with my dad," Turner said. "Something I always focused on was catching the football clean, focusing on the football and when the ball's in the air nothing else really matters."

Turner is a big target at 6 feet 5 and 220 pounds. The biggest question is his speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in a decent 4.58 seconds at USC's pro day.

"I'm a bigger-body receiver, a really good possession receiver," said Turner, who caught 49 passes for 741 yards and 10 touchdowns in Mark Sanchez's offense. "I adjust to the ball well, and even when there's good coverage feel like I can still make a play on the ball.

"For a bigger guy, I can get open with route running. I can help this team by being a consistent receiver on any down, but especially on third down."

The Dolphins were ridiculed for making Turner the 13th receiver off the board.

Scouts Inc. rated him the 38th best receiver in the draft. Pro Football Weekly's draft guide ranked Turner 30th, saying he "has no upside" and that he benefitted from facing single coverage because the Trojans offense was so loaded. Lindy's Pro Football ranked him 18th.

"Some of my friends told me about what was said," Turner said. "I don't pay too much attention to that stuff.

"I just go out and play football. That's what I love. I have a passion for it. I'm so fortunate to have it as a job. I'm going to take it as a job, be a professional and try to help this team and contribute in any way I can."

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano looks at Turner's big frame and sure hands and envisions another red-zone threat and a third-down option.

For now, Turner doesn't even have a logo on his white helmet. Rookies aren't given that honor.

That's another reminder he's just getting started. One day doesn't prove anything -- to the Dolphins or the draftniks.

"This is the first step to the dream," Turner said. "There's a lot more steps to go. To hear that phone ring on Sunday morning was an awesome feeling. You got a lot of people excited for you. I don't want to let those people down.

"It's a big deal to be in the NFL. This is the first milligram. There's a lot of work to be done, but I'm excited. This is what you play for, this opportunity."

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