As his absence extended into training camp, the Brian Hartline Watch kicked into high gear. When would he be able to ditch the medicine ball and get back on to the field? It was a slow-moving process, but he’s back at 100-percent.
Jesse Agler caught up with Hartline to find out how difficult his rehab was and what he needs to do build synergy with Ryan Tannehill.
The fourth-year receiver made it back in time for the Dolphins’ Week 1 game in Houston, of course, but he had to cut it pretty close, returning to practice just in time to see the field.
“It’s over and done with it, but there was a point in time where I was like, ‘Man, I just didn’t think this stuff was going to end.” Hartline said. “Like my teammates kept telling me, ‘All this bad stuff going on, you’re going to have some good fortune.’ So, hopefully that’s in the future.”
The calf injury and appendectomy came at an unfortunate time. Amid a very fluid situation at receiver, Hartline just couldn’t get back on the field, prompting questions of whether the reliable receiver would make the team coming out of training camp. That speculation ended up being baseless; his spot wasn’t in danger, though he still wasn’t able to compete for the new coaching staff. Most of what the new staff knew about Hartline was from tape not up-close evaluation.
Doubly frustrating for Hartline during his rehab was his inability to work with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. There wasn’t a whole lot of time to build an on-field chemistry.
Hartline anticipates that with a little bit of time he and Tannehill will definitely be on the same wavelength.
“Really, it’s more about me getting on his page and understanding what he expects. But there’s also a give and take there,” Hartline said. “Anytime I can kind of chirp up, which I’m never shy of doing my teammates know—I’m kind of staying in his ear, he’s staying in mine and we’re talking. But he’s doing that with everyone, and he’s doing a good job.”
Hartline, having accrued some valuable NFL service time, can certainly attest to how perception ebbs and flows to varying degrees. He spent a pair of seasons in a much-hyped receiving corps led by Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall. Now, though, the unit is seen externally as a glaring weakness.
It’s something that he, personally, doesn’t have enough time to keep up with, whether it’s positive praise or critical derision.
“Again, to get to this level, usually you’ve gone through some bumps, you’ve gone through some situations, you’ve been critiqued. So hopefully by the time you get here, you’re not taking everything on the chin.
“Obviously, it’s good for motivation and that’s all good and well, but, overall, we’re so focused on trying to get a win on Sunday and getting this in the right direction that that’s not an issue at this point.”
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