Brian Hartline will return to practice as early as today and, barring a setback, will practice all of next week as the Dolphins prepare for the start of the regular season against Houston.
This is huge news for the team.
I know, I know, you think I overstate. You think I embellish.
But to those of you focused on what receivers the Dolphins might trade for, or what waiver wire discards they might claim, or the guys they worked out on Thursday, consider the following:
In adding Hartline, who has been out the entire preseason with a calf injury, the Dolphins are adding a player that is better or almost as good as any player the Dolphins have been linked to recently.
That's right, Hartline is as big an addition as Donte Stallworth, Anthony Armstrong, Mike Sims-Walker, James Jones, and Jabar Gaffney.
Consider the stats over the past two seasons:
Hartline: 78 receptions ... 1,164 yards ... 14.9 avg. ... 2 TD.
Stallworth: 24 receptions ... 391 yards ... 16.2 avg. ... 2 TD.
Jones: 88 receptions ... 1,314 yards ... 14.9 avg. ... 12 TD.
Gaffney: 133 receptions ... 1,822 yards ... 13.6 avg. ... 7 TD.
Armstrong: 51 receptions ... 974 yards ... 19.0 avg. ... 5 TD.
I know what you're thinking. Hartline isn't in the same class as either James Jones nor Jabar Gaffney. I understand your point.
But understand that unlike James Jones, Hartline has been playing in a prehistoric offense the past couple of years and has not been the beneficiary of Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and someone like JerMichael Finley at tight end.
Also understand that the Dolphins would have to trade for Jones and he would not know the offense right away. Hartline is on campus and knows the offense so he can contribute right away and I've been told he might even be a starter if he has a great practice week next week.
He's on Miami's radar. They would like to add him. But the truth is he's currently injured and I was told by a good source that Gaffney's preference is to return to New England once he's healthy. If they don't want him, then he would look around to other teams. I believe they will take him back.
If something gets in the way of that and Gaffney comes to Miami, he would have to learn the offense. Would he be an upgrade? Absolutely. But it should not diminish Hartline that he's been more of a deep threat than Gaffney the past couple of years.
Mike Sims-Walker has not posted the kind of stats Hartline has recently and there's a reason he's been cut by multiple teams now. Stallworth obviously isn't the same guy he was before his tragic auto accident in which he ran over and killed a man crossing the road leading to Miami Beach several years ago.
He's good. But is he heatlhy? He's battled injuries the past 12 months, including this training camp. So he's right there with Hartline on that. He's a burner and can get over the top of the defense. But the Dolphins still have to finalize a trade for him. Yes, Armstrong would be a help. But that doesn't mean Hartline is lessened.
Indeed, we should not diminish the importance of Hartline's return. If he can stay healthy, it definitely helps.
And now heeeere's the plus coverage:
The Dolphins released the following list of cuts, most already reported by The Herald -- Vince Agnew, Will Barker, Ryan Baker, Cameron Collins, BJ Cunningham, Rey Feinga, Clyde Gates, Shelly Lyons, Quinten Lawrence, Lydon Murtha, Roberto Wallace, and Jamaal Westerman. The team says Gary Guyton's contract was terminated.
Ryan Cook is not on this list but he was traded to Dallas for a 7th-round pick. The trade is not official until he passes the Dallas physical.
The Herald previously reported OL Chandler Burden and WR Jeff Fuller were cut but they were at practice today. Barring an unexpected change, they are scheduled to be cut and both will likely be re-signed to the practice squad if they clear waivers.
The Dolphins will continue to make cuts and other moves through tonight's 9 pm deadline and then tomorrow and again Sunday. So nothing will really be settled for several days.
Not practicing today were John Jerry, Lake Long and Jason Trusnik.