If there was any positive to take away from last week’s crushing loss to Buffalo, it’s this:
Ryan Tannehill, four months removed from reconstructive knee surgery, looked quite spry on the sidelines.
“I think he was just trying to stay warm,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said with a chuckle Thursday. “But it was good seeing him bouncing off those knees and jumping. ... His feedback is that he really feels good and that he’s on pace and on the timeline he needs to be on. So that’s really encouraging. That’s great for him. I’m happy for him.”
Christensen added: “I remember thinking, ‘That thing looks pretty darn strong.’ ”
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And so do the chances that Tannehill will be ready to start the 2018 season as Miami’s undisputed quarterback.
Even though the Dolphins are mulling bringing back Jay Cutler next year, it would be as a backup. Tannehill is the guy — assuming he has no setbacks.
Tannehill has not played since injuring his left knee on Dec. 11, 2016. He decided to rehab it instead of undergo reconstructive surgery, but then tore it the second week of training camp.
He has been rehabbing like a maniac ever since, even running stairs before some Dolphins games.
“He’s with the trainers, lifting,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “Any time I ever see him in the weight room, seeing his movement, his ability to do some of the things he’s doing. it’s been impressive.”
That is only part of Tannehill’s normal day, however. He has acted as a volunteer coach, helping craft the game plan, sitting in on meetings, tutoring young teammates and providing input during games.
“It’s been different, but there has been a role,” Christensen said. “I’ve been really impressed with him that he’s in all the meetings. A lot of guys disappear. You go on [injured reserve] and you just kind of disappear. And it’s hard. IR is hard, because you don’t feel part of the team and you’re doing your treatment, but I see him in there. He’s got his notebook. He takes his notes, he has comments. You can tell he’s studied it and he’s engaged. I think that’s an impressive characteristic to have.
“That’s a really, really hard role,” Christensen added. “It’s just an uncomfortable position. The guy you’re helping and hoping has taken over the leadership of the team in the huddle, whether it’s Matt [Moore] or [Jay] Cutler, so you’re not sure what your role is. Are you still in charge of the whole thing? Are you trying to be in the background? He’s handled it well. It’s really, really not easy. The quarterback position, especially. There’s a ton of guys that disappear when it’s all over. You don’t see them. They do their rehab. But it’s hard to stay engaged.”
Tannehill is one of three projected Dolphins starters who suffered season-ending injuries in the preseason. The others: cornerback Tony Lippett (achilles) and linebacker Raekwon McMillan (knee).
“It’s been good for Raekwon because he’s around all the time, he’s trying to get better mentally, which we need him,” Gase said. “We’re going to count on him next year. Tony’s a guy that’s played, but it still doesn’t hurt him hearing these things over and over again and seeing these things.”