Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Projected Starters: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson
Others Expected to Play: Rishard Matthews
The one connection that Dolphins fans have been waiting to see since March has been Tannehill to Mike Wallace. Miami's biggest offseason acquisition provides a speedy, big-play threat the Dolphins haven't had in a long time.
Unfortunately for Miami, the deep ball everyone wants to see might not happen in Week 1.
Wallace will face off against Joe Haden, a very good Cleveland corner who possesses elite-level talent and is looking to take the next step this year. As fellow Dolphins writer for B/R Thomas Galicia points out, Haden took Wallace out of the game in their lone matchup last season. Wallace was limited to one catch for nine yards.
Miami's newest wide receiver will be used as more than just a deep threat though, and that's why I still see him having an alright day. Look for him to snag his first touchdown as a Dolphin (not counting the preseason) on a short route in the red zone.
Tannehill's favorite target from a year ago, Brian Hartline, should fare better against Buster Skrine. Tannehill and Hartline scorched defensive coordinator Ray Horton's Cardinals last season with Hartline collecting 253 receiving yards and his only touchdown of the year. Don't expect the same level of performance this time around, but look for Hartline to benefit from his relationship with Tannehill and finish with good numbers.
Miami's other addition at receiver, Brandon Gibson, plays a unique role. Although larger than the typical slot man, the Dolphins' slot receiver relies on good hands, sound route-running, and a potent mix of athleticism and physicality to succeed. With Dustin Keller out for the season, Miami will likely use Gibson's big frame in goal-line scenarios, like it did against Tampa in the preseason.
The fourth wide receiver, Rishard Matthews, should get the least work of the group. Don't expect much from the veteran receiver other than a catch or two and a few yards.
Final Stat Lines
Wallace: 3 receptions, 59 yards, 1 TD
Hartline: 5 receptions, 68 yards
Gibson: 3 receptions, 31 yards, 1 TD
Matthews: 1 reception, 8 yards