Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline is well on his way to franchise receiving records but his selfless attitude and leadership qualities have proved to be invaluable.

Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline is the kind of player who can easily go underappreciated.

The electricity of free agent acquisition Mike Wallace is undeniable and the emergence of tight end Charles Clay has been a pleasant surprise with each instrumental in the team’s 3-0 start. Yet it is Hartline steady as clockwork and twice as reliable who is Miami’s leading receiver after three games.

Backup quarterback Matt Moore who’s in his third year working with Hartline said the best way to describe the Ohio State product is “consistency.”

“He just does it right” Moore said. “He’s professional about his job.”

STUDENT OF THE GAME

Although Hartline has been a useful pass-catching option his whole career — finishing at least third in team receiving every year he has been in the league — the development of the former fourth-round draft pick has been gradual no doubt a product of hard work and film study.

And although all NFL players study the game for many it doesn’t come as naturally as it does for Hartline.

“I’ve always been a student of the game” he said. “I love the game and its in and outs and the different aspects of it. I kind of thrive that way really understanding the offense quickly as a whole.”

Add the athleticism of a college track athlete and the result was a breakout year in 2012 in the absence of departed receiver Brandon Marshall now with the Bears. Hartline caught 74 passes and totaled 1083 receiving yards in his first year as a primary target.

The fifth-year receiver is quickly climbing the ladder of the Dolphins’ all-time best receivers. Hartline’s 253-yard performance last year against Arizona was the highest single-game receiving output in team history. His 12 catches in the same game trail only a 15-catch explosion in 2004 by Chris Chambers.

Through three games Hartline’s numbers are even better than last year’s career year. Although the volatility of football makes speculation unreliable the fact remains that Hartline is on pace for a 96-catch 1269-yard season.