Friday, August 31, 2012
Brian Hartline back at practice
DAVIE, Fla. -- On a day filled with personnel shake-ups around the NFL, the Miami Dolphins welcomed a veteran receiver to practice.
Brian Hartline, one of the team's best pass-catchers the past three seasons, rejoined workouts Friday after missing all four exhibition games because of a left calf injury. He bolsters a receiving group that was lackluster in training camp.
"We've had some rough times," Hartline said. "Maybe I can add a little spark to the group to ignite us and get us going."
Hartline's return came as the Dolphins made cuts to reach the regular-season 53-man roster limit while also shopping for upgrades among the players released around the league.
The process will continue through the weekend before the team reconvenes Monday to prepare for the season opener Sept. 9 at Houston.
"This is a very fluid time for the roster the next couple of days," coach Joe Philbin said. "It's an anxious time for the players and coaches."
Among those waived by the Dolphins were five receivers: third-year pro Roberto Wallace, sixth-round draft pick B.J. Cunningham, undrafted free agents Chris Hogan and Jeff Fuller, and Clyde Gates, a fourth-round pick last year.
Two players signed this year as free agents were released -- linebacker Gary Guyton and defensive end Jamaal Westerman. Offensive lineman Ryan Cook was traded to the Dallas Cowboys for a late-round draft pick in 2013.
Also waived were offensive linemen Lydon Murtha, Ray Feinga, Will Barker, Andrew McDonald and Chandler Burden; defensive backs Vincent Agnew, Anderson Russell and Quinten Lawrence; linebackers Cameron Collins and Shelly Lyons; and defensive tackles Ryan Baker and Isaako Aaitui. Waived injured were defensive end Jarrell Root and defensive back Kevyn Scott.
Four quarterbacks remained on the roster -- rookie starter Ryan Tannehill, 2011 starter Matt Moore, offseason acquisition David Garrard and youngster Pat Devlin. Philbin said it was possible the Dolphins would keep all four.
Along with Hartline's return, there was other good news on the injury front. Pro Bowl tackle Jake Long, who left practice Monday because of a right knee injury, worked on the side Friday and didn't rule out playing in the opener.
"I'm glad it wasn't more serious," Long said. "I'm working hard to get healthy and get back."
Hartline's injury sidelined him for spring drills, and he aggravated it on the first day of training camp. He also had an appendectomy this summer, and said it was difficult to sit out during the transition under first-year coach Philbin.
"It has been awful," he said. "It's a whole new era, and I want to be part of it. It's a big year for the team."
Barring a setback, Hartline said, he'll be ready for the opener. The fourth-year pro has 109 career receptions and an average of 15.3 yards per catch, and he could provide Tannehill with the sort of deep threat the Dolphins lacked in the exhibition season.
"We're excited about getting our hands on him," Philbin said. "We watched him last year, thought he has a chance to be a productive player, thought he played fast and caught the ball well."
Hartline declined to predict how quickly he'll get in sync with Tannehill but said he's comfortable with the offense introduced by Philbin.
"I don't think I'm behind at all," Hartline said. "I've been to every meeting. I ask more questions than anybody else. As long as the body's ready, I'm ready."