About that Dolphins quarterback competition? Game on.
For the first time as a pro, rookie Ryan Tannehill took snaps with the first-team offense Thursday, showing coach Joe Philbin is serious about giving his first-round pick a shot at the starting job.
Midway through Thursday morning’s session, Philbin switched out Tannehill and Matt Moore, allowing the rookie to take reps with the first string in full-contact action.
Up until then, Tannehill had worked solely with the reserves.
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A few minutes later, Tannehill showed why the Dolphins have such high hopes for him.
He launched a deep pass to Chad Johnson down the right side that would have been a sure touchdown, if it wasn’t broken up by Nolan Carroll at the last moment. Tannehill later flashed touch, connecting with Johnson on short and intermediate routes.
“I think it’s on an as-earned basis,” Philbin said, when asked about Tannehill getting first-team work. “He’s throwing the ball well enough in the couple of days he’s been at practice. It’s been earned.”
Added Tannehill: “I think I’ve gotten better every practice. … I want to be the guy. It’s not a goal to be a backup. I want to play; I want to get in there.”
Still, the move was no indication that Tannehill has an inside track on the starting job. The team still needs to install 25 percent of its offense and is holding off on any true evaluation until then.
Furthermore, Philbin said Tannehill, Moore and David Garrard were essentially tied statistically through the first five days of camp.
Tannehill might have had his first crack with the first string by now if a short contract dispute hadn’t cost him the first two days of practice.
He worked in shorts Sunday and Monday, and then threw to reserves Wednesday.
Yet in his short time in pads, he has been impressive, tight end Anthony Fasano attests.
“He’s a smart kid, got a great arm,” Fasano said.
“He really anticipates where the opening’s going to be and where the open receiver will be. He’s a lot further along than any rookie quarterback that I’ve seen.”
As a group, however, the offense was behind the defense Thursday.
The Dolphins installed their Bear package — Miami’s version of the 46 defense — and free rushers and down linemen seemed to come from every angle.
“That front that we played against [Thursday] and that whole concept sometimes forces adjustments,” Philbin said. “I don’t think we had a great day. Historically, offense doesn’t do as well as they’d like on this day.”
Feeling the heat
With little cloud-cover and the heat index near 100 degrees, Thursday’s practice was among the most uncomfortable of camp. The Dolphins strategically schedule their sessions so they end before the hottest part of the day, but it was still a scorcher.
“It is what it is,” said Fasano, soaked in sweat as he left the practice field. “At least we’ve got a little bit of a breeze. [Last Friday] seemed like the hottest, but maybe because it was the first day. They’re all hot.”
Tannehill, who played at Texas A&M, said Texas summers are hotter, but South Florida’s are more humid.