Less than a year after he had back surgery and considered retirement, 34-year-old quarterback David Garrard found himself back atop an NFL depth chart Tuesday morning at training camp.
Despite missing all of last season because of surgery Garrard is expected to be starting in Friday’s preseason opener against Tampa Bay, ahead of Matt Moore, Ryan Tannehill and Pat Devlin, respectively.
With his hands on his 4-year-old son’s shoulders, Garrard fielded questions after practice with a sense of accomplishment but not overconfidence.
“I left it all in the coaches’ hands.… so I’m excited to be where I am right now and hopefully I can just continue on,” he said. “… It’s not about proving people wrong — it’s about proving to myself that I can come back from my back surgery and still be the same player I was before.”
Moore and Tannehill admitted disappointment, but both emphasized their desire to continue to fight for playing time.
“We’re still competing,” said Moore, who started the last 12 games for the Dolphins in 2011. “They’ve got to start somewhere, and right now, I’m the No. 2. I guess it’s frustrating a little bit, but I’m not worried, I’m not overly concerned it’s going to wreck my play here on out.”
“We all want to be the guy,” said Tannehill, the eighth overall pick in the 2012 Draft. “It’s a friendly competition, and we’re supportive of each other.”
Garrard has not fielded an in-game snap since a preseason game last September and has not played in a competitive game since December 2010. Last October, Garrard had back surgery in the hope that it would relieve some of the pain that 117 sacks and countless other hits had caused him in his nine-year career. He said it took him more than two months before he could get off his couch comfortably.
Although some might still have concerns about Garrard’s ability to bounce back from the hard hits that await on Friday, Garrard said he would be ready for them.
“[The first hit is] going to feel great,” Garrard said. “Hopefully I can get up off the ground, and once I do I’ll knock the dirt off myself and keep on moving.”
Surprise at corner
Although much of the focus Tuesday was on the quarterback situation, one of the camp’s more surprising developments has been the placement of cornerback Richard Marshall ahead of Vontae Davis on the depth chart.
Davis, a mainstay with the Dolphins since he was drafted 25th overall in 2009, seems to have lost his starting spot to the recently signed Marshall. Still, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said it was early and wished the team could play at least one preseason game before any depth chart could be made.
“At this point, [Marshall has] been more consistent in practice — he’s made more plays,” Coyle said. “There’s a long way to go in terms of how this thing is going to work its way out, starting with Friday night in getting a chance to really see these guys in game-type situations.”
This and that
• Having to sit out most of camp last week because of a hamstring injury, wide receiver and kick returner Clyde Gates was the second-to-last player off the field Tuesday morning, as he repeatedly caught balls that came quickly from a machine.
• Offensive lineman Ray Feinga missed his second consecutive day of practice but was present for the afternoon walk-through.
• The Dolphins’ practice, which will be open to the public, starts at 6:25 p.m. Wednesday at Nova Southeastern in Davie.
• The Dolphins will announce their new-branded name for their training facility and details on the celebration commemorating the 40th anniversary of their perfect season on Wednesday.