By Omar Kelly, Sun Sentinel –
DAVIE, Fla. — Chad Ochocinco will achieve his childhood dream of playing for the Miami Dolphins.
The South Florida native, and formerly unemployed NFL receiver, worked out for the Dolphins before Monday’s OTA sessions and was signed to a one-year deal that includes incentives Monday night according to a source.
Ochocinco, who was waived by the New England Patriots last week, will compete for one of the five or six receiver spots on the 53-man roster. But there’s also a chance he could earn a starting role.
Reggie Bush has known Ochocinco for a few years, and was willing to vouch for the attention-starved receiver, who has been miscast with a diva receiver label.
“Good guy, good player,” Bush said. “I personally think he still has a lot left. Knowing him he wants to prove he can do it at his age, still play the game.”
Ochocinco had a disappointing season with the Patriots last year, catching just 15 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown in 15 games. In the postseason, he only played in the Super Bowl and had one catch in that game.
But New England’s offense primarily fed Wes Welker and the team’s two elite tight ends. With the Patriots, Ochocinco was the team’s fourth or fifth option.
“I definitely feel like he can be a help,” Bush continued. “From a veteran standpoint, with his wisdom and knowledge, he can help.”
General Manager Jeff Ireland previously acknowledged that receiver is one of the team’s thinnest units, and it doesn’t help matter that Brian Hartline, a projected starter, is battling an undisclosed leg issue.
Hartline has sat out most of the team’s OTA sessions, and missed Monday’s practice for reasons the team won’t disclose.
The Dolphins were also hopeful that at least one of the young receivers — Clyde Gates, Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore, Julius Pruitt, or one of the five rookies — would step to the forefront, establishing himself as a potential playmaker. But that hasn’t happened in the weeks leading up to next month’s start of training camp.
At the moment, Legedu Naanee, a sixth-year veteran the Dolphins signed to a one-year, minimum contract this offseason, is one of the team’s top three receivers, and biggest playmakers. And there’s a big drop off after him.
That’s why the Dolphins signed Ochocinco, who caught 766 passes for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns during his 11 seasons.
“It’s not an indictment of any of the (receivers) at this point in time,” Philbin said. “I don’t think it is any different than any position. You always evaluate your roster. Jeff (Ireland) and his guys turn over every stone and they look for way to improve the club.”
As far as assessing the rest of Miami’s receiver, Philbin has consistently raised concerns about the unit’s struggles catching the ball consistently, and the struggles some youngsters are having learning the new west coast offense, and playing at a quicker speed.
“It’s competitive, at times,” Philbin said of the competition during OTAs.”You’d like for some players to make it easy, and distinguish themselves, maybe make the picture a little bit clearer at certain times. We’ve had guys who had some real productive stretches.
“The consistency of catching the ball is something we’re working on, and are a little bit concerned about. . . .We have to catch the ball more consistently on every position on offense.”
The Dolphins presently have 90 players signed, and need to release a player to make room for Ochocinco, who is engaged to “Basketball Wives” reality star Evelyn Lozada.