Almost one year ago to the day, Ryan Tannehill was declaring himself and his knees “100 percent” and “totally normal.”
Tannehill made it through organized team activities, but did not last through training camp, his season ending with an anterior cruciate ligament torn in practice. But this year is different.
Tannehill’s knee has been surgically repaired. And there is every indication that while doctors feel outstanding about his recovery, everyone in the organization wants to make sure to protect Tannehill from his own competitiveness.
The first of 13 important spring practices begin Tuesday in Davie. Tannehill is planning to participate. But coach Adam Gase has warned this may also be a great opportunity to get a close look at the David Fales-Brock Osweiler backup battle.
In part it’s to evaluate them, but also to ease Tannehill back, as he’s not the type to ever ease himself back into anything.
Miami needs Tannehill healthy to have any chance to exceed expectations this season (five-to-six wins, says Vegas). And so really, there is absolutely no need to push him in these organized activities. Tannehill already has the advantage of an extra year of mental reps in Gase’s offense.
“I’m a coach and not a doctor,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last week. “I trust our medical staff here, they’ll tell us everything we need to know about that with coach Gase. We’re in the process of putting together a good plan for him coming up with OTAs. What I’ve been able to see from him is that he’s a good thrower that can make all of the throws.”
When Tannehill is under center, he’ll be taking snaps from a new center (Daniel Kilgore), be protected by a new Pro Bowl guard (Josh Sitton), handing off to a new Pro Bowl center (Frank Gore) and passing to new receivers (Albert Wilson, Danny Amendola) and tight ends (Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe).
Gone are security blankets Mike Pouncey, the center, and Jarvis Landry, the receiver. But Tannehill is perpetually positive and non-controversial. So while he may be saddened by their departure, surely he’ll stress excitement about the new additions. Dolphins media and fans have not heard from Tannehill since his latest injury, last August.
So when Tannehill speaks, it may be enlightening.
Tannehill wears a headset, to communicate with Gase. And getting up to the speed of offense Gase and Loggains plan to operate this season will be interesting to watch unfold.
On defense, linebacker Raekwon McMillan had planned to wear a headset and lead Miami’s defense as a rookie. All eyes will be on #52, as he makes his return from a season-ending knee injury sustained on his first and only NFL preseason game play.
The Dolphins have been encouraged by the progress of Tannehill, McMillan and cornerback Tony Lippett (Achilles), and all three will be on the field in some capacity next week. It is still uncertain how much work all three will actually do, however.
Miami will need improved pass rush from a group of players with high pedigree — Cam Wake, Charles Harris, Andre Branch and newly acquired Robert Quinn. How those four players perform against Miami’s first-round offensive tackles, Ja’Wuan James and Laremy Tunsil, bears watching.
So too, will watching how Miami’s two rookie tight ends perform, especially when matched up with tight-end stopping rookies Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jerome Baker.
Miami’s organized team activities are closed to the public. But don’t worry. You’re all invited to training camp this summer.
And more great news: The Palm Beach Post’s Daily Dolphin will be reporting from the select spring practices open to the media.
We’ll be charting every catch from Amendola, Wilson, Gesicki and Smythe. And of course, every single move made by Tannehill, in his official return to the field and as the leader of Miami’s offense.