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Slow rehab could cost Miami Dolphins’ David Garrard starting QB job

Even if David Garrard survives this week’s cuts, it’s doubtful he will be healthy for the season opener.

Garrard spoke with reporters Sunday for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery more than two weeks ago.

Garrard did not give a timeframe for his return, saying he’s just now “starting to walk normal.” He has yet to resume running or jogging, which means he is on the late end of his three-to-four-week rehabilitation schedule.

That certainly hurts his chances to make the team, seeing that the Dolphins must decide on their 53-man roster by Friday night.

“Life sometimes is going to throw you lightning bolts, and you’ve got to be able to fight through them and bounce back from it,” Garrard said. “That’s all I can do. It’s unfortunate, but there’s worse things going on in this world than just me and my knee.”

Garrard injured his knee Aug. 9 while playing with his son. He had surgery two days later to clean up cartilage and remove particles that were “floating around,” he said. The injury derailed his bid to return from the back injury that sidelined him for all of 2011. Garrard would have started the preseason opener but was injured the night before.

“Oh, absolutely,” Garrard said when asked if he has since thought about that cruel twist of fate. “I’m human. Everything was kind of rolling right along.

“But not many guys even make it to Year 11, with even the chance of being a starter,” he added. “I’m just going to take every day, day-to-day, and roll from there.”

With Garrard out of the competition, Ryan Tannehill beat out Matt Moore for the starting job. That pushed Garrard down, at best, to third on the depth chart, and his $2.25 million base salary might be a luxury the Dolphins can’t afford.

Should the Dolphins release Garrard, they could go with two quarterbacks or keep Pat Devlin as the third. Moore took nearly all of the snaps with the scout team Sunday — a troubling sign for Devlin, as the job is usually left to the quarterback who is lowest on the depth chart. The final exhibition game Wednesday could be a make-or-break performance for Devlin.

“I’m extremely excited about it,” Devlin said of his opportunity. “I always have confidence in myself.”

Healthy Hartline?

Brian Hartline might not be ready to practice yet, but he appears to be getting close. Hartline, who has been battling a calf injury all camp, went through warm-ups and caught passes before Sunday’s practice. He was limited once team drills began.

His potential return comes at a critical time for the Dolphins, as coach Joe Philbin has not really had a chance to evaluate the team’s fourth-leading receiver from a year ago.

“Film is one thing, but obviously you’d like to have your own set of eyes on players in your program,” Philbin said.

Karlos Dansby and Derrick Shelby were also at practice Sunday, but were limited.

Garrard, Kelcie McCray (who appears headed for injured reserve), Lydon Murtha and Nate Garner were absent Sunday.

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