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Friday, August 28, 2009

Miami Dolphins rookie Brian Hartline impresses in start




The competition just got more interesting as rookie receiver Brian Hartline led Miami with three catches in Thursday night's game.

BY SCOTT PURKS

August 28, 2009

TAMPA -- Brian Hartline has been nothing if not persistent.

Always.

And it appears that personality trait might pay off -- big time -- for the Dolphins.

Case in point was Thursday night's preseason game in Tampa.

Hartline, a fourth-round pick out of Ohio State, got his first start in a Miami uniform and ended up making the most of it: For the game, mostly against the Buccaneers' starting group, Hartline led Miami with three catches for 79 yards.

The most telling catch, perhaps, was a 54-yarder early in the third quarter to Tampa's 6-yard line, which set up a 2-yard touchdown toss to tight end Anthony Fasano.

No doubt this is exactly the type of thing coach Tony Sparano was looking for: Another solid receiver to compliment quarterback Chad Pennington's penchant for hitting multiple targets.

If Hartline pans out, Pennington's numbers could shoot into the stratosphere.

Consider that last season Pennington completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 3,653 yards and did it by hitting 14 different receivers. Six of those guys had more than 30 catches and three -- Ted Ginn Jr., Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess -- had more than 50.

When it was announced this week that Hartline was getting the start Thursday, Sparano was questioned as to what this meant in regards to who would start opposite Ginn.

Sparano played it rather close to the vest.

``It's still uncertain to me, we looked at [Hartline] out there in the first group last week, it's still uncertain to me right now,'' Sparano said. ``It's starting to clear up a little bit more for me, but it will take a little bit more time. . . .

``[Hartline] had a good week of practice, and, I think, I mentioned this [type of consideration] all along. I think, from my end, getting a chance to see some of these players against higher-level competition sometimes [offers better perspective]. . . . Just giving him an opportunity to go out there and see him against better people kind of evens the reps out a little bit.''

And, in the case of Thursday night, probably intensified the competition at receiver.

Behind Hartline, in those more pertinent first three quarters, no other receiver had more than one catch. And then there was this: Hartline was thrown at five times, or two more than the next receiver.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Camarillo made a significant play of his own, a 52-yard catch and run deep in Tampa territory. But Miami failed to convert the play into a score. Chad Henne was picked off a few plays later.

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