Tuesday, October 13, 2009
By Omar Kelly
October 9, 2009
DAVIE - According to Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, there's a simple explanation why rookie receiver Brian Hartline has quickly worked his way up the Dolphins' depth chart.
Hartline, who scored his first touchdown last Sunday against the Bills, has already learned all three of the team's receiver spots, and can play them all effectively according to Sparano.
Despite Hartline's limited NFL experience, Sparano labeled the Ohio State product the smartest receiver amongst the units, and said he's even begun to take charge in their meeting room.
But that aspect of Hartline's makeup really isn't too surprising to Sparano considering he and General Manager Jeff Ireland first noticed it during the draft process when they conducted a film study with Hartline.
Ireland said it was that intimate session that made Hartline, who caught 90 passes for 1,429 yards and 12 touchdowns in his three seasons for the Buckeyes, a draft target.
"Smart player, really smart player," Sparano said of Hartline, who was selected in the fourth-round with the draft's 106th pick. "[He] can go into the game at any one of [the receiver spots] at any course of the game and handle that workload. I think he has really come along very, very well. He is exactly what we thought he would be."
So far, Hartline has caught six passes for 53 yards while fellow rookie, Patrick Turner, a USC standout the Dolphins selected in the third-round, hasn't dressed for a single game.
Sparano points out that Turner, who excelled during OTA sessions and training camp, had his best week of practice this week, but said it's a "numbers game" regarding his playing status.
While Hartline can contribute on four special teams phases Turner can only do two, and the Dolphins typically only carry four receivers on the game day roster.
"He's been getting better and better at practice and at some point [will] get an opportunity," Sparano said.