Hartline, Long, and Jerry return; all expected to play in Dolphins’ opener

The Miami Dolphins finally got some good news on Wednesday.  The Dolphins welcomed back 3 key players to practice, just 4 days before their season opening game against the Texans.  The most important returning player is the Dolphins 300 lb. All-Pro left tackle, Jake Long.  Long sprained his MCL just 9 days ago in practice and is expected to start on Sunday.  Long’s return to the Dolphins is crucial, because Long will solidify the offensive line and will be the protector of rookie QB, Ryan Tannehill’s blind side.  Long was listed as ‘limited’ in practice, but again, should play on Sunday barring any setbacks in the next few days.

John Jerry, who many think will be the Dolphins starting right guard, also returned to practice.  Jerry too, was listed as a ‘limited’ participant at Dolphins practice.  If Jerry cannot go, the Dolphins will be even thinner on the offensive line, following the season ending injury to Artis Hicks.  If he can go, it gives the Dolphins another solid pass protector for their young quarterback.

Finally, Brian Hartline, who missed almost all of training camp with a calf injury, also returned to Dolphins practice.  Hartline was listed as a ‘full’ participant in practice.  Right now, he seems healthy, but his conditioning still needs work.  Due to his calf injury, Hartline was unable to run and get into game shape.  However, it’s likely he’ll see some playing time on Sunday against the Texans.

What about the Dolphins other wide receivers?  Anthony Armstrong, Davone Bess, Legedu Naanee, Rishard Matthews, and Marlon Moore all practiced as usual on Wednesday.  Armstrong is still working on learning the Dolphins complex offense, but seems to be fitting in just fine.  Ryan Tannehill mentioned that he was impressed by Armstrong’s speed. Of note, Tannehill threw 2 slant passes to Armstrong that the receiver turned into long gains.

According to reports, the Dolphins offense was VERY vanilla in the preseason.  Apparently, the Dolphins used the preseason practices to install the offense, but the 4 preseason games were primarily used to evaluate players.  On Sunday, I expect to see an up-tempo offense that gets to the line quickly and allows Tannehill to make the proper adjustments at the line of scrimmage.  After all, he knows the offense better than anyone.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Texans react to the things they haven’t seen before AND how they choose to attack the rookie QB.  Having Hartline, Long, and Jerry back, will certainly help the Dolphins offense combat anything the Texans throw at them!

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