Ginn tries to shake reputation
Twice Ted Ginn Jr. left the New York Jets stumbling and lunging, grasping at and gasping for air. With moves like that, maybe he can shake his reputation yet. Ginn scored on consecutive kickoff returns of 100 and 101 yards, an unprecedented feat that took a total of 31 seconds. He's that fast. His many detractors might call him the fastest draft bust in Miami Dolphins history. "He takes a lot of flak," teammate Justin Smiley said. "He deserves more respect than he gets." Dolphins fans began booing Ginn the day he was drafted in 2007, and they've yet to stop. But he won at least a temporary reprieve last week when he helped Miami beat the Jets 30-25. Ginn became the first player to have two scores of 100 yards or more in the same game, and the first in 42 years to have two touchdown returns in the same quarter. He had 299 yards on kickoff returns, second-highest total in NFL history. "Wasn't that marvelous?" offensive coordinator Dan Henning said. "There can be no better human story than what happened last week around here and what Teddy was able to come up with. For him to do that is a great story." Give Ginn credit for resisting any temptation to tell his critics, "Nyah, nyah, nyah." "I still got to prove myself," he said. "It's better not to just talk. It's better to show action. Talking is cheap. The only thing I can do is go out and continue to make plays and put the naysayers away." While Ginn resuscitated his career against the Jets, the performance reinforced the impression he has underachieved since being taken with the ninth overall choice in the draft. He wasn't a popular pick - jeering fans at the Dolphins' draft party wanted Brady Quinn - and he has struggled in the role of a No. 1 receiver. Last week he lost his starting job. Then came his dramatic response against the Jets. "This kid is a resilient guy," coach Tony Sparano said. "Some people rise up, some people don't. Teddy rose up." When asked which TD return was better, Ginn said: "Both." On the first, he cut back to find an opening. On the second, he describes himself as a trapped mouse, braking before breaking to the outside. Both times he outran the coverage when in the clear. "He's so doggone fast," Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said. "Once he got to the edge, we can't get him then." While Ginn's play on special teams was a game-changer, he didn't have a reception. The Dolphins (3-4) head into Sunday's game at New England ranked fourth worst in the NFL in passing, and they're last in yards per reception. As a result, Ginn catches grief. The biggest raps are that he runs poor routes and shies away from contact. "He has been taking a lot of scrutiny and has been the target of a lot of talk," teammate Ronnie Brown said. "We all know his athletic ability and what he's capable of doing. We saw it last week." Yes, the potential's there. At Ohio State he tied an NCAA record with eight touchdown returns. But as an NFL receiver he has only five career TDs and two 100-yard games. This year he's averaging only 11.7 yards on his 18 catches. Midway through his third pro season, he's not even the Dolphins' best receiver from Ohio State. Sparano replaced him in the lineup with another former Buckeye, rookie Brian Hartline. Even in the wake of his electrifying effort against the Jets, Sparano hinted the Dolphins have given up on Ginn as an every-down wideout, at least for now. "You have to understand what the player can do, and let him only do what he can do well," Sparano said. At the same time, his big-play potential has never been more clear. He was on the field for 22 plays against the Jets and scored more points than the Dolphins' offense. "Some of these other guys played 60, 70 plays out there and didn't have that kind of impact," Sparano said. As the Dolphins seek to repeat last year's run to the AFC East title, a receiver to stretch the field is their biggest need. Wideouts have seven touchdown receptions in the past two seasons, and the lack of a downfield passing threat allows opponents to crowd the line of scrimmage against Miami's potent ground attack. Ginn appeared on the verge of a breakthrough in the third game this season, when he had a career-high 11 catches for 108 yards against Indianapolis. Three weeks later, he made a fine catch on a long pass for a 53-yard score. But he has only five receptions in the past five games. "Ted has been a little streaky," Sparano said. The Dolphins hope the big day against the Jets gives Ginn's confidence a jolt that spills over to his offensive production. He seemed to enjoy rehashing the kickoff returns this week, and conceded he had seen himself on the endless TV replays. "It's hard to miss," he said. "The only thing you can do is don't get satisfied with it, but enjoy it while you can." Hey, it beats being booed.