MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 01: Brian Hartline #82 of the Miami Dolphins runs with the ball after a catch during a Pre-Season NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at Sun Life Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
While players left, right, and center are getting the ax today, both in Miami and around the NFL, the Miami Dolphins are also returning to the practice field today. It's the presence of two players, left tackle Jake Long and wide receiver Brian Hartline, who should get the most focus today.
Long injured his right knee four days ago, with a follow up MRI showing the damage to be minor. The All Pro left tackle sat out the final preseason game for the Dolphins on Wednesday, but so did almost the entire first team offensive line. Long suffered through multiple injuries last year, including recovering from a right knee injury, shoulder surgery, a lower back injury, and, finally, a torn right biceps muscle.
Hartline, meanwhile, has missed all of the team's preseason workout. During the offseason minicamps, Hartline was forced to have an appendectomy, while also dealing with a minor calf injury. Now healed form his surgery, Hartline has not been able to take part in any Dolphins training camp practices or preseason games as the calf injury continues to nag him. A few days ago, he began sprinting on the side lines, and now appears to be on the practice field for the first time in the 2012 preseason.
Both players are desperately needed by the Dolphins. Long's absence exposed a dangerous lack of depth for Miami along the offensive line. As for the Dolphins' wide receivers, there's just a dangerous lack of talent. If Hartline can come back and get into game shape quickly, he will be a much needed addition to the team's lineup heading into next week's season opener against the Houston Texans.