Dolphins' Tannehill lacking go-to target

The SportsXchange

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Dolphins spent all summer, and the first few weeks of training camp rotating three quarterbacks as they competed for the starting spot.

On top of that, 12 receivers were battling for six roster spots, and constantly went up and down the depth chart.

Then a new receiver -- Anthony Armstrong -- got added to the mix after being claimed off waivers last week. And finally, Brian Hartline comes back from his calf injury.

Now both Armstrong and Hartline are progressively being working into the starting group.

As a result of the numerous changes the Dolphins passing game lacks chemistry, and rookie starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is searching for a go-to target he can lean on.

"Success helps," said Hartline, who caught three passes for 50 yards in the opener, one of which was a 34-yarder caught along the sidelines. "Any time you can create a situation where you aren't doubting each other, you're relying and trusting on one another, and that comes with success, the process has started. When you're not executing at a high level, and you're not winning games, then it puts a little doubt in your head."

On the three and five-step drop plays that are staples of the west coast offense everything is predicated on timing, so location and rhythm are a huge priority. That only comes with repetition, which the quarterbacks and receivers usually stay late after practice to work on.

"Some passes it doesn't take a whole lot of reps. (On) slants, hitches, not a whole lot can be different from guy to guy," said Tannehill, who completed 20-of-36 passes for 219 yards in the 30-10 season-opening loss to Houston. "When you go to your timing routes, outside breaking routes, inside breaking route, high speed cuts it's something you have to rep, and it speeds up by staying after and throwing on air to figure out how guys run when there is no one on them. That way you can anticipate."

To get in his good graces Tannehill admits he needs to "see it in practice," referring to as receiver getting to a certain spot, or creating separation on specific routes.

"You have to win and show him you're going to win," said Armstrong, who put together a breakout season in 2009 after gaining Donovan McNabb's trust. "You can't have a situation where the (defensive backs) are all over you and you say 'I'll get it in the game.' Do that and he won't trust you."
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