Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill sustained a non-contact injury to his left knee during Thursday’s practice, and the Dolphins were trying to determine the extent of the injury, according to league sources.
The Dolphins had no comment and coach Adam Gase told players not to discuss the injury with reporters.
But a league source said the Dolphins “are hoping for the best but fearing he worst.”
And multiple players expressed deep concern privately, though they were not told the severity of the injury.
Tight end MarQuies Gray said players were “praying” for Tannehill.
UPDATE: The Dolphins know that Tannehill hyperextended his left knee — the same one that last December suffered a partially torn ACL That is the minimum of what the player is dealing with now.
A source close to Tannehill said there is the possibility of posterior cruciate ligament damage.
If Tannehill has a PCL sprain it is possible he would not require surgery but would need time to rehabilitate and heal on his own and that could take anywhere from two to eight weeks, depending the serverity of the injury.
There is also the possibility of the worst case scenario that everyone within the Dolphins organization is hoping to avoid: That would be a torn ACL to the left knee. That injury would almost certainly be a season ending injury.
The injury is to the same knee that Tannehill injured last season, forcing him to miss the last three regular season games and playoff game. Tannehill suffered ACL and MCL injuries to that knee and had a stem cell procedure but decided not to get surgery.
Tannehill went down awkwardly after scrambling to the sideline during team drills, in the first hour of practice.
He remained on the ground for at least 15 seconds, surrounded by teammates while trainers examined the left knee.
Tannehill then got up and walked very slowly to the locker room but without a pronounced limp. He was accompanied by two Dolphins officials but did not need their help to get to the locker room.
Tannehill was enjoying one of the best stretches of his career when he suffered a sprained ACL and MCL in a game against Arizona last December when he was hit by Calais Campbell.
He shed tears at the time because, as he explained in June, “I finally started to feel really comfortable in the offense and what we were trying to accomplish and how we were doing it. The game was really slowing down for me. I was seeing things more clear for me than I ever have.”
After consulting with doctors, Tannehill decided not to have surgery on the knee. Surgery likely would have sidelined him into September or October this season.
He has been wearing a brace on the knee but has said for months that the knee has been a non-issue, that it hasn’t affected his mobility at all.
Tannehill finished last season with a career-best 93.5 rating, which ranked 12th in the league among quarterbacks, along with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Matt Moore, 32, replaced Tannehill in team drills after Tannehill’s injury and threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills.
“He’s a great quarterback,” Dolphins quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree said Thursday of Moore, while adding he knows nothing about Tannehill’s injury. “I’m happy to have him.”
Asked Wednesday if, in a weird way, he hopes not to get a snap in a regular season game this year, he said: Moore said: “In a weird way, if you’re going to put that in there, yeah. My job is to be ready, just like last year, at the drop of a hat. Do I hope that happens? Absolutely not. But if it does, I think Adam and I both would be that much better working with each other.”
Filling in for Tannehill at the end of last season, Moore had eight touchdowns, three interceptions and a 105.6 passer rating in three regular season games, then completed 29 of 36 passes for 289 yards, with one touchdown, one interception and a 97.8 rating and went 30-12 playoff loss to the Steelers.
“I think my expectations are higher this year,” he said Wednesday.
If the Dolphins lose Tannehill for an extended period, they very likely would go with Moore as the starter and would look to add a veteran backup who’s superior to the other quarterbacks in camp, Brandon Doughty and David Fales.
Doughty has been inconsistent in camp and Fales has consistently struggled.
The most prominent free agent quarterbacks still available: Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III.
Kaepernick, who has an 88.9 career passer rating, has had difficulty finding a job after refusing to stand for the National Anthem last season while protesting police treatment of African Americans, among other social stands. Though the 49ers went 2-14, Kaepernick posted decent numbers (16 touchdowns, four interceptions, 90.7 rating).
Asked last week whether Kaepernick was being blackballed, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said: “If they think he can help them win, I would hope they would sign him.”
After an outstanding rookie season for the Redskins in 2012, Griffin’s play has declined dramatically because of knee injuries. He missed substantial time with injuries as a member of the Cleveland Browns last season.
Gase was Jay Cutler’s offensive coordinator in Chicago, but Cutler retired this offseason to join Fox’s No. 2 announcing team and has shown no inclination to play again, let alone come back as a backup. This would seem to be an unlikely match, despite the affection between Cutler and Gase, who attended Cutler’s retirement party this summer.
Also available: Christian Ponder (with the 49ers last season, 75.9 career rating), Thaddeus Lewis (Hialeah Miami Lakes product wasn’t in the league last year; 81.4 career ratring), Zach Mettenberger (75.4 career rating), Charlie Whitehurst (with Browns last season, 74.9 career rating), Sean Renfree (17 career passes, 10.7 ratring) and Aaron Murray, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Chiefs out of Georgia but hasn’t thrown a pass in four pro seasons, was waived by the Rams last week, and joined CBS as an analyst last week.
Future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, who has a close relationship with Gase, retired after the 2015 season and has shown zero interest in playing again.
Please check back for updates.