A lot has already been said and written about the potential–or perhaps lack thereof–of the wide receiver group for the 2012 Miami Dolphins. Preseason opened with Chad Johnson as the number one guy, and in the first preseason game Roberto Wallace played very well, but both are no longer Dolphins. Their failures led to Davone Bess being moved to WR, but this is not ideal because Bess is such a good slot-WR. The return from injury of fourth year starter Brian Hartline should allow offensive coordinator Mike Sherman to A) move Bess back to slot-WR and B) finally have a legit down-field threat.
The question is will Hartline be ready to go on Sept. 9 as the ‘Phins open the season at the Houston Texans (Dolphins offense vs Texans preview is HERE). The word out of Miami is that Hartline is finally feeling well enough to participate in practice. This would elevate his status from no-chance to game-time decision. It does look like he will play, but head coach Joe Philbin acknowledges that Hartline is not yet at a physical or endurance level that is ideal.
Hartline gets up to full speed quickly at one or two steps, but he is not a speedster–he runs a 4.5/40 when fully healthy. He is crafty against zone-defenses as he has an ability to be sneaky and find a soft spot in the zone. He is likely the best Dolphin at attacking the ball when it is in the air. This allows him to use his good hands and not let the pass get into his body and eat him up.
In Miami’s 23-12 loss to the Texans in 2011, Hartline caught a pair of passes, including one that was for a nice 25-yard gain. Hartline was better on the road in 2011 than at home and the ‘Phins are surely in for a tough road game at Houston.
Hartline endured an appendectomy in June and then on the first day of training camp, he messed up his left calf. So, he was snake bit to start 2012, but if the rumors are true, we will see him soon. Could it be Sept. 9 soon? We will soon see.
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