Some must speak up in order to stand out

Gripes have paid off for many, but Chambers won't complain

Nfl Week

October 22, 2006|By Alex Marvez | Alex Marvez,South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Whine and you shall receive.

After losses by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets two weeks ago, wide receivers Terrell Owens and Laveranues Coles publicly complained about not being more involved in their teams' respective offenses. Fast-forward to last Sunday and - voila - Owens (five catches for 45 yards and three touchdowns) and Coles (five catches for 106 yards, two touchdowns) played major roles in victories by the Cowboys and Jets.

Dolphins wide receiver Chris Chambers has just as legitimate a gripe as Owens and Coles entering today's game against the Green Bay Packers, but you won't be hearing such complaints publicly.

Chambers failed to post more than 40 receiving yards in three of the Dolphins' four previous games. And though he did botch a potential catch that resulted in a Jets interception, the fact that Chambers caught only two passes for 12 yards through the first three quarters of last week's 20-17 loss to New York speaks volumes about how much less of an impact he is making in 2006 compared with the final six games last season when he had 43 receptions for 620 yards and six touchdowns en route to a Pro Bowl berth.

Chambers could have vented his frustration to the media a la Owens and Coles after the loss to the Jets. Instead, Chambers said he approached offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey privately last week about his role in the team's offense.

"I asked Mike today if there's anything I need to do differently," Chambers said Wednesday. "He said, `Just keep playing and we'll figure out ways to get you the ball.'"

Earlier in his six-year NFL career, Chambers occasionally spoke out publicly when wanting a larger role in the Dolphins' passing offense. Chambers, though, said he is more comfortable with a low-key approach.

"I know how to handle it," Chambers said. "I try to kind of let the coaches figure it out that I need to get going early in the game, not get one [catch] in the first and then not get another one until the fourth when we're trying to win and it's like, `We need you.' It's kind of rough. But I think the coaches know that."

In comparison, Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael is from the squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease school of thought. McMichael isn't afraid to speak his mind when not catching passes, although his 14 receptions in the past two games weren't the result of his public lobbying so much as improvement by the offensive line that allowed him to become less of a blocker and more of a receiver.

McMichael said he understands why Owens and Coles spouted off.

"If you say you want the ball, it's because you have confidence in your ability," McMichael said. "They're the go-to guys. When your go-to guys say, `Give me the ball,' you've got to give them the ball.

"They shouldn't have to say that. You should automatically be giving them the ball. I think a lot of times they challenge themselves by saying it because they know they have to elevate their game so [complaining] won't blow up in your face."

Such demands can create the perception of a player as being selfish.

McMichael, though, said that shouldn't matter.

"The thing is you don't ever worry about what anyone from the outside is saying," McMichael said. "Your teammates know what you can do. A lot of times, teammates in the back of their minds are thinking, `Wow, we've got to get this guy the ball.'"

For the Dolphins, that guy would be Chambers, even if he won't shout it out.

Alex Marvez writes for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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