Dolphins coach Adam Gase couldn’t be any more clear Wednesday: Ryan Tannehill is still not ready, and probably won’t be in time for Sunday’s wild-card game against the Steelers.
“Unless something changes drastically in the next few days,” Matt Moore will start on Sunday, Gase told reporters.
Gase added: “We’re trying to take these steps. We may run out of time this week.”
Tannehill’s injured knee, which has kept him out of the past three games, was not healthy enough for him to practice Wednesday. He was an observer in street clothes, wearing a brace on his ailing left knee.
If Tannehill has any hope of playing Sunday against the Steelers, he’ll need to get on the practice field — quickly.
Gase told reporters Wednesday that starting Tannehill in Pittsburgh without any practice reps “would be hard for us to do. I need to see him move around with traffic around him, how his escapability is.”
Tannehill has not appeared in a game since Dec. 11, when he sustained a sprained ACL and MCL in his left knee.
The Dolphins still are holding out hope Tannehill will return to practice Thursday, but Gase acknowledged that Tannehill’s mobility is a critical part of his game.
“All of a sudden to throw him back there and say, ‘Don’t move, and if anybody gets close to you, go down …,’ ” Gase said. “That’s not really an option for us. It’s not his style of football. We have to make sure that we feel comfortable with the way that he’s moving around. Really, at the end of the day, you have to be able to protect yourself, and so much of his game is movement.”
Gase later characterized Tannehill as “day to day.” Gase didn’t seem overly concerned about Tannehill being rusty if he only practices for two days after a month-long layoff.
“When you’re a quarterback and you know our system probably better than anybody, at some point the natural instincts take over,” Gase said.
“He knows our game plan in and out. I have a lot of confidence in him being able to tell me, ‘I can’t do it this week.’ When he hits that point, he’ll tell me that. … I want to see what happens [Thursday], if we end up getting him out there. If we don’t, then we move on to the next day. Matt has done a good job. He keeps preparing and getting ready for this game.”
Moore has won two of the three games he’s started in Tannehill’s absence, plus he finished out a 26-23 Dolphins win over the Cardinals in the game Tannehill was injured.
Moore has completed 55 of 87 passes for 721 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions for a 105.6 passer rating.
“There’s some good and some bad,” Moore said. “Obviously, I’ve turned the ball over every single game. That has to be eliminated. As far as execution, moving the ball, relationship with guys, it’s good right now. We have to keep building on it.”
Moore added that Tannehill is “going crazy. He’s doing his best to get better. That’s just who he is.”
Before his injury, Tannehill was having a career year.
He had completed 261 of 389 passes for 2,995 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a 93.5 passer rating.
More Gase on Tannehill: “Every day, we keep seeing improvement. It’s going to be more about, ‘Where’s his movement at?’ ... We’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing with him, and we’ll make a decision on [Thursday] as far as what we’re going to do at practice.”
Miami Herald sportswriter Andre C. Fernandez contributed to this report.