DAVIE, Fla. -- The Dolphins' most productive wide receiver over the past five years will be wearing an opposing uniform Sunday when Miami faces the Cleveland Browns.
Veteran slot receiver Davone Bess is making his Browns debut against the Dolphins, his former team. Bess caught 321 receptions for Miami since 2008. That included five consecutive seasons of 50 receptions or more, and a career-high 79 receptions in 2010.
Bess had another productive year in 2012 where he caught 61 passes for 778 yards and one touchdown. Despite Bess’ consistency, there was always a sense Miami’s new coaching staff preferred bigger, more athletic playmakers at receiver. That partially explains Miami’s trade of Bess last April and signing of a bigger, faster slot receiver in Brandon Gibson.
Bess said he wasn't surprised that he didn’t return to Miami this year, but he’s not out for revenge in Week 1.
“From my perspective, I don’t hold any grudges,” Bess said on the conference call with the Miami media Wednesday. “I’m forever thankful of the Dolphins organization to give me this opportunity to play in this league. We’re nothing without the opportunity. So I’m forever grateful for that. All good things must come to an end.”
The draft-day trade between Cleveland and Miami was a bit complicated. Miami traded Bess and its fourth-round pick (No. 111) and seventh-round picks for Cleveland’s fourth- and fifth-round picks. The Dolphins selected linebacker Jelani Jenkins and tailback Mike Gillislee with those selections. Both rookies made Miami's 53-man roster.
Bess said he’s moved on from the Dolphins. He sold his home in South Florida and now settled in Cleveland. Bess, 27, is a six-year veteran who is asked to bring leadership to an otherwise young team.
“He’s been great for us,” Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski said. “We have a really young team and at that position, as well. He’s a consummate pro. He approaches everything the way you want him to as a coach.”
Although Bess doesn't hold a grudge with the Dolphins, he should have a chance to impact this game. Miami is thin in Week 1 at cornerback after recently cutting veteran Richard Marshall and with rookie cornerbacks Will Davis and Jamar Taylor ailing.
Both teams share various strengths and weakness. It could be a close game where someone has to step up in the fourth quarter. Could Bess do it against his former team?
"It’s going to be different obviously," Bess said. “Me knowing them and then knowing me, it would to be easy to get rattled and let the emotions get the best me. But my approach is just like every week: I want to compete to win the ballgame.”