DAVIE—When Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill went down with a knee injury a little over two weeks ago, his situation was obvious enough for coach Adam Gase to publicly rule him out of not only the next game, but the one after that.
With Miami hosting the Patriots in six days, however, Tannehill’s status isn’t clear-cut. While it appears highly unlikely from the outside that he has any shot at playing Sunday, Gase declined to make that definitive.
“I don’t know yet,” he said when asked if Tannehill is out against New England. “I don’t know where the doctors have him right now or how he feels. I haven’t really asked. I just tell them, ‘Once you guys have something different, come talk to me.’”
Tannehill sprained the MCL and ACL in his left knee late in Miami’s Dec. 11 win over Arizona. Longtime backup Matt Moore came in for the game-winning drive that afternoon and helped the Dolphins beat the Jets and Bills in Tannehill’s absence.
In his two-plus games, Moore is 31 of 53 for 516 yards and has six touchdown passes against two interceptions.
It’s possible Gase is merely trying to play mind games with the Patriots, but there has been progress lately. After the New York game, Tannehill denied an NFL Network report that his MCL had torn completely off the bone and reiterated his hope to play again this season. He no longer has his left leg in a hard cast and was walking without crutches at the Buffalo game on Saturday.
Even if he was medically cleared to play this week, there’s little incentive for Miami to go that route. The Dolphins have clinched a playoff berth and will play in the Wild Card round at Pittsburgh or Houston next weekend. The only part of that yet to be determined is whether they can climb up to the fifth seed, which would happen only if they beat the Patriots and have Kansas City lose at San Diego.
The upside, though, is that Tannehill’s chances increase the longer the season goes. The first playoff game would come nearly a month after the injury took place. That’s the reason Miami has not placed him on Injured Reserve in favor of opening a roster spot.
“We don’t know,” offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James said about a potential Tannehill return. “We don’t talk about it.”
Tannehill was having one of the best stretches of his career when he got hurt. He completed a career-high 67.1 percent of his passes and had 19 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. He posted a quarterback rating of 100.1 over his last eight games.
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