Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who missed the last three regular-season games and the postseason because of a left knee injury, is healed and will be available for the start of the team’s offseason program. He will not have surgery to reconstruct the knee.
Numerous sources with knowledge of Tannehill’s recovery from a partially torn ACL and grade 2 sprained MCL said that weeks ago he passed a battery of tests that determine the stability and functionality of his knees and that he is now ready to go.
Even better for all involved, these sources insist, is that Tannehill will not be any more susceptible to a future ACL tear in his left knee following his completed rehabilitation than if he had had a reconstructive surgery.
Tannehill, pronounced healed by team doctor John Uribe and with a concurring second opinion from respected surgeon Dr. James Andrews, will be participating in the team’s conditioning program in April, OTA days which begin in May, minicamps after that and training camp, which is scheduled to begin in late July.
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Coaches, and specifically head coach Adam Gase, will reserve the right to manage Tannehill’s work load, but the player will be fully available as the team wishes.
Team doctors, athletic trainers and Andrews told Tannehill and coaches in December that not having surgery on this particular injury but instead taking on a rigorous workout and healing regimen that spanned approximately two months would bring results just as good as surgery.
Tannehill’s regimen concluded in early February.
A side benefit of Tannehill not having surgery is having him ready for the team’s offseason work. Atlhough sources said it wasn’t the reason to avoid surgery, the fact remains Tannehill would not have been able to participate in any camps, OTA days and likely would have missed much of training camp while rehabbing from surgery.
Tannehill’s recovery included him getting adult stem cell treatment in the United States.
Tannehill will play the 2017 season with a brace on his left knee. A source said Tannehill has been working out with multiple braces to see which one he’s most comfortable using.
The brace is meant as a preventative tool. The quarterback’s knee is said to be stable without it. And his mobility is not expected to be affected.
The Dolphins declined to comment. Tannehill was unavailable for comment.
The Dolphins and Tannehill also undertook this course in part because doctors informed them surgery would not decrease the chances of future ACL injuries.
Some players actually have ACL surgery and tear the same ligament afterward — former Dolphins safety Louis Delmas being one example.
It’s also not absolute that all players must have surgery after injuring an ACL.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward played his entire career without a left ACL.
Former New England and Minnesota cornerback Jimmy Hitchcock tore his ACL as a child and never had it surgically repaired. He played eight years in the NFL.
Some players sustain ACL injuries and choose rehabilitation over surgery without it becoming public.
The point several people are making is that the Dolphins and Tannehill are confident avoiding a major surgery and the long rehabilitation that follows was the best course for the quarterback.
That point will be obvious to everyone, they say, when Tannehill is on the field this summer and not in the training room or weight room rehabilitating.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter @ArmandoSalguero