Ryan Tannehill remains at least six months away from returning to practice.
At least as a player.
But there is nothing in the NFL rulebook prohibiting the Dolphins’ injured quarterback from spending his downtime as an unofficial coach. And Tannehill has exploited that loophole to the fullest.
Tannehill, who underwent knee surgery two months ago, has been a fixture both at team headquarters and on the sidelines during games.
And he is providing meaningful — and helpful — input. He even suggests plays on Sundays — when he deems it appropriate.
Here’s how his coach, Adam Gase, summed up Tannehill’s contributions as of late:
“He’s been doing a lot really inside, just with suggestions on if something goes a little haywire in practice of how to fix things. He’s always up to date with what’s going on with who we’re playing, what their scheme is, what are some of the things we should lean on. He’s been good just trying to give me suggestions occasionally during games. He’s been really good with that of just giving me subtle reminders of some of the things that he’d be thinking of in those situations. I think him and Jay [Cutler] have done a good job of talking through stuff and Ryan has been able to get to me sometimes during a series to where he can suggest some calls.”
Gase said Tannehill does not provide “a ton” of in-game input, but “it seems to be at the right time. He has a good feel. He knows me well enough to know when a good time is and when it isn’t a good time. It’s almost like he’s playing the game.”
Gase also joked that Tannehill knows the right way to diffuse his easily animated coach “when I’m going off the rails.”
This is all good stuff, of course — assuming Tannehill is nimble enough to protect himself on the sideline. While he has moved around the practice field and locker room relatively well in an athletic sleeve, the speed of games might be too much for him at times.
That’s why Gase “pretty much have said that to him every week [to] ‘stay out of the way,’” the coach said Friday.
Gase added: “Any time we’ve got a guy down there that’s coming off an injury, that’s the last thing that you want to see is something else happen. He’s staying away from the play for the most part. I think sometimes he creeps a little too close to where you’ve got to remind him. For him, he feels like he’s already alright and he’s doing a lot of the things that it looks like he’s alright but we just know that it’s a process. We’ve still got a ways to go.”