Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline headlines the team's Expendables. - Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
Every NFL team has that group of players who shine above the rest, have the spotlight on them, and perform week in and week out. The players that are stars, or superstars. Players that end up in Pro Bowls or are All Pro selections. This post......is not about them.
The Miami Dolphins, like every team in the NFL, has star players. There are some players on the team who could be called superstars. They are the ones high in the Pro Bowl voting around the league, and they could even be getting consideration for All Pro selections. They are the players who, game-after-game, play-after-play, are out there looking to make a difference.
So, as the Dolphins get ready to face the Seattle Seahawks tomorrow, it's time we take a look at ....well, not those players.
Instead, we will look at that tier of players who have to step up if the team is going to have success. That group of players who everyone writes off as expendable, yet they are the players who really determine if a team wins or loses.
For the Miami Dolphins, no group of players epitomize the idea of "The Expendables" more than the wide receivers.
The Dolphins have the worst group of receivers in the NFL. Remember when everyone was saying that before the season. Miami would not be able to throw the ball at all this year, and teams would simply have to stack the box against Reggie Bush, the only player on Miami's roster who was considered "talented," to shut down the Dolphins.
(Did it bother anyone else that Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby, Paul Soliai, and Randy Starks were all forgotten, despite being high production, and/or previous Pro Bowlers? But, I guess only offensive players can be "talented" in preseason previews.)
Yet, rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill (who could, himself, be considered an Expendable with how many people told us that he would need at least a year to have any success in the NFL), has 2,120 yards passing. So, apparently someone is catching the ball for Miami.
Enter the cast of "The Expendables - Miami Dolphins Edition." Filling the role of lead actor, we find Brian Hartline. Hartline has 53 receptions on the year, for 790 yards with one touchdown. Both Hartline's receptions and yardage totals are already career highs for a single season, and he could still reach his career high in touchdowns this year as well.
The top supporting actor in our movie today goes to Davone Bess, with his 48 receptions for 586 yards and a touchdown. Bess is seen as one of the top slot receivers in the league, although he always seems to be forgotten until someone asks about him. He's the definition of a supporting actor. He's someone everyone knows, but forgets about until they see him.
Bess is averaging nearly 2 yards more per catch than his previous career high for a season (12.2 yards per catch this year), and could reach career highs in receptions and yards before the end of the year.
The Dolphins also have Anthony Fasano, who is the solid supporting actor who never gets much notice, but always puts in a good performance. He's that guy you know you've seen somewhere before, but you can't quite place him. Fasano has 26 receptions for 200 yards this year, with a team high three touchdowns.
Of course, the Dolphins Expendables has also had a few bad cameo appearances, including brief appearances by Jabar Gaffeny, Legedu Naanee, and Anthony Armstrong. Those three combined for eight receptions for 99 yards with the Dolphins this year. All three have completed their time in the film.
The Dolphins also have a couple of players who fill that "And Introducing..." line in the opening credits of a movie. Rookie fullback Jorvorskie Lane has six receptions for 57 yards this season, and, making his debut last week, seventh round draft pick Rishard Matthews seems to be ready to take on a larger role in the Dolphins' 2012 movie.
Add in other players such as Bush (23 receptions, 194 yards), running back Daniel Thomas (12 receptions, 119 yards), and Marlon Moore (4 receptions, 83 yards), and the Dolphins at least have a solid cast of characters.
Miami faces the Seattle Seahawks tomorrow. The Seahawks come in to the games with the 3rd ranked pass defense in the league, and will be looking to shut down the Dolphins' collection of "no talent" wide outs.
The Dolphins' Expendables will have to show up, and show up in force, Sunday afternoon.