In the heady moments after the Dolphins’ 35-13 waxing of Oakland on Sunday, Brian Hartline sidled up to Jeff Ireland, and asked the team’s general manager the following:
“Should training camp be optional now?”
Ireland, not surprisingly, said heck no. But given Hartline’s breakout game, it should at least give him pause.
Hartline, who missed all but a few days of camp with a calf injury, set career highs in catches (nine) and receiving yards (111) in Sunday’s blowout win.
Ryan Tannehill’s search for a go-to guy might have ended. He targeted Hartline on 12 of his 30 passes, often going to him on sideline routes for which the Raiders’ secondary had no answer.
“I’m just trying to take advantage of my opportunities,” Hartline said. “When a ball comes my way, it’s either mine or nobody’s.
“[I want to be] someone that you can lean on in tough situations.”
If Hartline can prove Sunday’s showing wasn’t a one-time blip, the perception of the entire Dolphins’ receiving corps changes. Ireland infamously referred to the group as a bunch of “4s, 5s and 6s” on “Hard Knocks,” but Hartline — with his 12.3 yards per catch average — looked like a legitimate star.
Hartline had as many catches as the rest of his teammates had combined. And he left Oakland searching for answers.
“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said, when asked about his secondary.
In a showdown of two of the league’s premier punters, it was advantage Miami.
The Dolphins’ Brandon Fields averaged 53.2 yards per punt, pinning four inside the Raiders’ 20-yard line. Meanwhile, Shane Lechler, the nine-time Pro Bowl selection, managed 46.9 yards per attempt. In short, Fields left Oakland with long fields for most of the day, helping negate the Raiders’ 373 passing yards.
Even Dan Carpenter, the Dolphins’ kicker, got into the act. He lined up for a long field goal in the first quarter, but instead received the direct snap and launched a pooch punt inside the Oakland 10. The 29-yard effort was the first punt of Carpenter’s career.
Maybe it’s something about Sun Life Stadium that brings out the best in Lamar Miller. Making his home pro debut in the same stadium where he played his college ball, Miller rushed for 65 yards on 10 carries, including a 15-yard touchdown run that blew the game open.
With backup running back Daniel Thomas held out after suffering a concussion last week, the onus was on Miller to spell featured back Reggie Bush. He did so with aplomb.
“This is a great feeling, to have your first touchdown in the NFL,” said Miller, a former University of Miami standout. “Hopefully, I’ll have plenty more to come.”
This and that
• Dolphins inactives: Thomas, QB Pat Devlin, OL Will Yeatman and Ray Feinga, DT Tony McDaniel, TE Michael Egnew and WR Anthony Armstrong.
• Owner Stephen Ross was among the Dolphins dignitaries to hand out hats commemorating the 1972 undefeated season to fans as they entered the stadium. Ross and Wayne Huizenga, the man from whom he bought the team, exchanged pleasantries on the field before the game.
• Bob Kuechenberg and Dick Anderson, both members of the ’72 team, were honorary captains.