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What does Philbin think of the group?
"I wish we caught the ball a little better this morning," he said.
The position was considered perhaps the team's weakest even with Johnson. The remaining wideouts have combined for 490 career catches and 21 touchdowns, compared with Johnson's 766 and 67.
"Some of them aren't as well known, and maybe don't have a history of production," Philbin said. "But at some point you've got to have faith in people. I'm confident that we're going to get good receiving play here."
The situation looks especially grim because Brian Hartline, a starter the past two years, has missed all of training camp with a calf injury. Davone Bess is an experienced possession receiver, but newcomer Legedu Naanee has been plagued in recent years by recurring foot injuries, and the rest of the cast is unproven.
Roberto Wallace, who didn't catch a pass last season, led the Dolphins in receiving yards in their exhibition opener.
"The young guys get a little more opportunity," Bess said. "They've got to step up."
Not that the wideouts are Miami's lone area of concern. The quarterback position remains undecided, with holdover Matt Moore and first-round draft pick Ryan Tannehill battling for the job now that veteran David Garrard is sidelined by a knee injury. And the first-team defense played poorly against Tampa Bay.
Given the overall outlook, Johnson might be missed mostly for his comic relief.
"The mood of the team? We've got to get better regardless," Dansby said. "If we lose one guy, we've just got to keep pressing forward. We've got a lot of things to do, a lot of goals and a lot of improving to do. We went out there and laid an egg as a team. We've got to get better."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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