Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/30/13
Nobody has to remind Rishard Matthews his number is finally being called, and that the Dolphins need him to step up as the team's new slot receiver. Since Brandon Gibson suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday's loss to the Patriots, Matthews has been constantly reminded by teammates, coaches, family members and friends. "I think he's heard it 50 times already," wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "I've just been messing with him, telling him just to be a [smart-aleck]." Everyone from Matthews' teammates, to coach Joe Philbin, to the team's starting quarterback will testify that this former Nevada standout is ready. The eight receptions for 93 yards he's brought down in his limited opportunities this season back up their claims. "Since I've been here, I've contributed, but you have to pay your dues. When the time comes, be ready," said Matthews, a seventh-round pick in 2012. "The time is here now for me." But there is some concern about the process being rushed because Matthews doesn't have much experience playing the slot receiver role, which involves a lot of route adjustments and defensive reads. Wide receiver Brian Hartline took a deep breath and let out a huge sigh when asked if Matthews was ready. Hartline had just spent the past seven months developing chemistry with Gibson, getting their two-man game to a point where the pair were able to play off one another. Gibson's development had allowed the duo to combine for five of the team's 11 touchdowns, three of which came from Gibson in the last two games. "It just completely changes things," said Hartline, whose 35 receptions for 438 yards leads the Dolphins. "I think it's a pretty important position and the communication factor is huge. "We have to have chemistry. I have to trust him. He has to trust me," Hartline said, referring to the two-man game he plays with the slot based on a defense's coverage. "It is one position that's hard to replace."
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