Hester provides blueprint for Ginn’s success

By Hugo Guzman  |   Monday, October 15, 2007  |  Comments( 0 )

Miami Dolphins
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As yours truly sat there Sunday and watched the team I cover, the Miami Dolphins, lose their sixth straight game to begin the season, I couldn't help but think about possible nicknames for wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. "Baby Hester" came to mind. Of course, that's Devin Hester, the Chicago Bears' superb return man.

Against the Cleveland Browns, Miami's ultra-speedy rookie had two long kick returns called back thanks to penalties. The second one, an electric 96-yarder that Ginn took to the house, was negated by a senseless holding penalty away from the ball that did nothing to help spring the return. The ex-Ohio State standout also chipped in with a 32-yard reception and would have likely had another long catch and run had quarterback Cleo Lemon managed to get the ball to him on a short crossing route midway through the fourth quarter.

Not bad for a rookie with limited reps, right? Still, even if Ginn's returns had stood and his quarterback had been able to hit him in stride on that ill-fated third-down pass, Ginn's production would have still been dwarfed by that of his playmaking counterpart in Chicago.

Hester turned in a monster performance against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, returning a punt 89 yards for a TD early in the contest and hauling in an 81-yard bomb to even the score at 31 late in the fourth quarter. The Bears ended up being defeated, but Hester's performance was not lost on fans or media pundits, prompting many to label the former Miami star as one of the league's most prolific playmakers.

With that said, the question becomes: If Ginn can live up to the moniker of "Baby Hester," would his ninth overall selection be justified?

Mind you, there's a chance Ginn will grow to outperform Hester, both as a returner and receiver, but that's not what's important here. The key is that Hester's emergence on the NFL scene provides a fairly concrete validation for coach Cam Cameron's decision to take an athletically gifted yet technically deficient skill player with the Dolphins' first-round pick.

Ironically, Ginn has not really shown any of the alleged rawness that was perceived as a downside heading into the draft. The former track star and converted cornerback has been a solid route runner and has displayed good mechanics when catching the football. Moreover, he has come close to making spectacular grabs on several occasions, including a play two weeks ago that saw Ginn nearly make a one-handed catch in the back of the end zone against the Houston Texans.

Everyone is aware of Ginn's speed, but he is showing the type of receiving polish that puts him light-years ahead of Hester in that department and has fans clamoring for his promotion to the starting lineup as a wideout. And it doesn't hurt that Ginn is averaging almost 28 yards every time he catches the ball.

Being too optimistic about Ginn's returning prowess might border on crazy, especially when you consider that Hester has almost as many return touchdowns in 25 career games (nine, including playoffs) than the entire Dolphins franchise has had in its 42-year history (13).

Then again, as sacrilegious as this might sound to some Miami locals, Ginn might be the only guy in the league faster than Hester, and he is also the sole player in recent history who has enjoyed comparable success at the college level.

Regardless, just five games into his rookie campaign, Ginn gave is giving fans a tantalizing glimpse of what's possible. If he continues to excel as a receiver and can mimic Hester as a return man, Cameron & Co. will be counting their blessings and silencing initial naysayers for many years to come.

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About Hugo Guzman

Trying to bring an objective approach to NFL analysis.
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