QB Ryan Tannehill’s 2018 return foremost on Miami Dolphins’ minds

Ryan Tannehill will be celebrated as a hero when he returns. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE—There’s no way to say this without it being a shot at Jay Cutler, but the Dolphins have really, really missed Ryan Tannehill.

Tannehill’s 2018 return from a season-ending knee injury has been on players’ minds throughout the year, especially considering how much he remained involved. He’s been on the sideline, traveled with the team, sat in meetings and done a lot of his rehabilitation work on the field in full view.

That’s heightened the expectations, and Miami’s hoping Tannehill will pick up right where he left off in a promising 2016 season the last time anyone’s seen him on the field.

“We were making a lot of improvement this offseason, OTAs and training camp, and we were pretty excited at the improvements that Ryan was making and the timing and us getting on the same page and knowing this offense,” wide receiver Kenny Stills said. “That’s where we’re back to, knowing that he’s going to be back, he’s going to be healthy and just continue to work on the chemistry that we’ve built these past couple of years.”

There’s no question the Dolphins are moving forward now with Tannehill as their quarterback. Owner Stephen Ross identified his injury as the No. 1 problem for his team this year, and Cutler and Matt Moore both seem unlikely to be back next season.

In his first year playing for Adam Gase, Tannehill posted career bests in passer rating (93.5), interceptions (12), completion percentage (67.1) and yards per attempt (7.7). For comparison, Cutler was at 80.8, 14, 62.0 and 6.2.

Miami was 8-5 with Tannehill at quarterback, including the Dec. 11, 2016 game against Arizona when Calais Campbell knocked him out for the rest of that season with an injury to his left knee. Tannehill rehabbed that in time to be fully cleared for OTAs, but shortly into training camp the knee buckled on a non-contact injury.

“I think Ryan is a great piece,” safety Reshad Jones said. “He was coming along, he was having a good spring. I think he’s a valuable piece to this team.”

There’s no guarantee Tannehill will be a star after he’s been something less than that throughout his career, but he’s decisively better than Cutler. He’s more accurate and far more of a running threat, which is something this team needs at quarterback. If he’s healthy for next season, there’s one position Miami has already upgraded.

[Five instant takeaways from Dolphins-Bills]

[Mike Pouncey is ready to see Ryan Tannehill back at QB]

[Grading the Dolphins on their season-ending loss to Buffalo]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Miami Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry having career year at perfect time

Jarvis Landry has set himself up to make big money. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Amid a season of quarterback debacles and the Dolphins’ offense playing like “garbage,” to use Adam Gase’s word, receiver Jarvis Landry is putting together the best year of his career.

Good for him, too. It comes at the perfect time.

Landry never seemed to worry much about Miami not working out a contract extension for him in the recent offseason. He went into the season totally at peace with his situation, playing for a mere $1.1 million in total compensation, and he’s in position for a huge payday in free agency now.

With five catches for 51 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs, Landry topped 100 catches for the second time in his four-year career. His seasons of 84, 110, 94 and 103 receptions all rank in the top seven in franchise history.

Going into the season finale at Buffalo, he stands at 103 catches, 895 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s first on the team in all three categories. (Kenny Stills, by the way, is second in each department at 55, 813 and six). He leads the NFL in receptions, slightly ahead of Antonio Brown and Larry Fitzgerald at 101.

The all-time record, 143 by Marvin Harrison in 2002, is way out of reach. If Landry gets to 116 with 13 catches, for instance, that would give him the 16th-best season in league history.

The touchdown mark is Landry’s career high, and he needs eight catches to set another one and break his team record of 110 in 2015. He won’t get near his best seasons yardage-wise, but he can still crack 1,000 for the third year in a row.

That puts him in a lucrative spot heading into unrestricted free agency. He could establish a market not too far off of the $68 million, four-year deal Brown got last year. Miami is expected to re-sign Landry or franchise tag him if it comes to that, and he has said multiple times he wants to remain with the Dolphins.

There’s nothing to nitpick about what he’s done this year, not even that 8.7 yards per catch average everyone seems fixated on despite there being little he can do about that. Landry still finds a way to get open no matter when things break down, which has been often this year, and presents the threat to turn any quick pass into a big gain. He’s caught 68.1 percent of the balls thrown his way.

He’s been targeted on 26 percent of Jay Cutler and Matt Moore’s passes, making him the most-used player in Miami’s offense. Neither Cutler nor Moore has been good this year, either, making Landry’s output even more impressive. Cutler has the eighth-worst passer rating (80.9) among qualifying quarterbacks this year, and Moore is a few points behind him at 75.6.

[Dolphins’ nightmare season finally ends with loss at Kansas City]

[Five takeaways from Dolphins’ loss to Chiefs]

[Grading the Dolphins after losing to Kansas City]

[Have a look at our Dolphins-Chiefs photo gallery]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Miami Dolphins inactives: Who’s in/out vs. Kansas City Chiefs today?

Dolphins WR DeVante Parker has been fighting an ankle injury. (Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Mo.–The Dolphins are still scrapping for the playoffs, even with the most minuscule chance of everything breaking their way.

As they go into today’s game at Kansas City, here are their inactives:

QB Matt Moore (foot)
RB Damien Williams (shoulder)
G Isaac Asiata
T Eric Smith
TE Thomas Duarte

CB Cordrea Tankersley (shoulder, ankle)
S Michael Thomas (knee)

Here are some lineup notes:

–Wide receiver DeVante Parker missed some practice this week with an ankle injury, but is good to go today.

–Andre Branch, who missed last week with a knee injury, will start at defensive end.

–Anthony Fasano is the starting tight end.

–Recently acquired tight end A.J. Derby is active and could make his Dolphins debut.

[Here are some things Dolphins RT Sam Young doesn’t want to tell you, but tells you anyway]

[Dolphins seeing a lot of good things in Ryan Tannehill’s rehab]

[The coolest man in the NFL plays for the Miami Dolphins]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Miami Dolphins practice report: Last check-in before Buffalo Bills game

Cordrea Tankersley would be a big help to the Dolphins on Sunday. (Bill Ingram/The Post)

DAVIE–All the momentum the Dolphins have built over the past two weeks is tenuous as they head into what promises to be a frigid game at Buffalo on Sunday, and health will be a big factor in their ability to maintain it.

As Miami strives to stay in the playoff chase and even its record at 7-7, here are some personnel updates from this afternoon’s practice:

–One of the biggest concerns is rookie cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (ankle, shoulder), who missed the last game. He was on the field for the beginning of practice, but the Dolphins listed him as doubtful.

–Cornerback Xavien Howard (illness) was back, but he’s still sick. Howard said he will play against Buffalo.

–Defensive end Andre Branch (knee) looks like he’ll be available.

–Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (ankle) didn’t fully practice Thursday and wasn’t dressed for today’s practice.

–Quarterback Matt Moore (foot) continued to practice, though the Dolphins are likely to stay with David Fales as the backup quarterback to Jay Cutler.

–Running back Damien Williams (shoulder) was on the field, but didn’t appear to be practicing.

–Safety Michael Thomas (knee) also wasn’t practicing, but there’s still a chance he’ll play. It looks like the plan for him is to be cautious during the week but play in games.

–Defensive end Cameron Wake and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were not practicing during the portion open to the media, but neither is believed to have an injury. The staff has been giving them occasional days off lately.

[When Adam Gase gets upset with Jakeem Grant, he threatens to call his mom]

[Ndamukong Suh played every single snap in the win over New England]

[Dolphins’ Michael Thomas remains a special teams hero]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Miami Dolphins inactives: Who’s in/out vs. New England Patriots tonight?

Dolphins cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (30) didn’t practice all week because of multiple injuries. (Andres Leiva/The Post)

MIAMI GARDENS–The Dolphins will be missing a few key players as they try to upend the heavily favored Patriots on Monday Night Football.

Miami is going without starting running back Damien Williams for the second straight game after he suffered a shoulder injury in the last Patriots matchup, and right guard Jermon Bushrod remains out with a foot issue.

The biggest question marks going into tonight were defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (missed last week’s game against Denver with a knee injury), cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (hurt his ankle and shoulder last week) and safety Michael Thomas (ongoing knee problem). Godchaux and Thomas will play, but Tankersley is out.

Here are the Dolphins’ inactives:

QB Matt Moore (foot)
RB Damien Williams (shoulder)
RG Jermon Bushrod (foot)
OG Isaac Asiata
TE A.J. Derby

CB Cordrea Tankersley (ankle, shoulder)
DE Cameron Malveaux

Lineup changes:

–Kenyan Drake gets the start at running back, where the Dolphins are uncomfortably thin. The only backups are Senorise Perry (five career carries) and De’Veon Smith (NFL debut last week).

–Slot cornerback Bobby McCain will move outside in place of Tankersley, according to the Dolphins.

–Third-stringer David Fales will be the backup quarterback for the fourth time this year.

–The starting offensive line is LT Laremy Tunsil, LG Ted Larsen, C Mike Pouncey, RG Jesse Davis and RT Sam Young. This is their third straight game together. They allowed seven sacks against the Patriots two weeks ago, but just two in the Denver game.

[Ndamukong Suh has it out for Patriots QB Tom Brady]

[What’s Jay Cutler doing behind the scenes to get DeVante Parker out of his funk?]

[Adam Gase has his finger on exactly what’s gone wrong vs. New England Patriots]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Dolphins’ David Fales hangs around, could make run at No. 2 QB in 2018

David Fales could make a play for the No. 2 job in 2018. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE—This could have been a very short stay with the Dolphins for quarterback David Fales. Instead, it’s been an extended tryout for the backup quarterback job.

Fales spent the preseason with Miami, then was brought back Oct. 24 after Jay Cutler went down with fractured ribs. It was possible at that time he would be with the team merely for a matter of days because when Cutler was healthy enough to play, the Dolphins could go back to him and Matt Moore.

But coach Adam Gase saw the risk of carrying on with two older quarterbacks, both of whom have missed multiple games this season, and Fales hung around.

“I didn’t know how long it’d be; I’m week-to-week,” he said. “That’s how I’ve been every year. I still don’t really think much about it. It feels good to still be here, though.”

That’s been the story of Fales’ football life.

He originally signed with University of Nevada, then transferred once Colin Kaepernick established himself as the starter there. After a brief stay at Monterey Peninsula College, he resurfaced at San Jose State.

As a pro, he landed with the Bears as a sixth-round pick in 2014 and was on and off their roster over that season and the next one (Gase was his offensive coordinator in 2015). He signed with the Ravens as a practice squad player in early 2016, then went back to the Bears late in the year and ended up making his NFL debut in the season finale.

He’s been the No. 2 quarterback three times now (at Baltimore, at New England, Denver) and will be again Monday night against the Patriots. Matt Moore is out with a foot injury for the second consecutive game.

The only one of those games Fales played was against the Broncos, when Gase sent him in for Cutler with 4:45 left and the Dolphins up 35-9. He was on the field for three plays, and the only pass attempt was a deep throw to DeVante Parker on third-and-one that went incomplete.

“Yeah, any game situation like that is easier than even the preseason,” he said. “You’re just handing the ball off. You’re just managing things, making sure everyone lines up and making sure we don’t do anything stupid and give the ball up.”

The interesting thing about Fales isn’t what he did in that game. It’s what he’s shown in practice. He was impressive enough between 2015 with Chicago and this summer with the Dolphins that Gase called him in over Brandon Doughty, who was Miami’s seventh-round pick in 2016 and has been in the organization without interruption since.

The real question now is whether Gase likes him enough to move on from Moore, who turns 34 before next season starts and make Fales the backup to Ryan Tannehill next season. Fales is 27, cheaper and 2018 would be his third year in Gase’s offense. Moore, who has made $3.6 million over the past two seasons, is an unrestricted free agent in the spring.

[Ndamukong Suh has it out for Patriots QB Tom Brady]

[What’s Jay Cutler doing behind the scenes to get DeVante Parker out of his funk?]

[Adam Gase has his finger on exactly what’s gone wrong vs. New England Patriots]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Dolphins QB Matt Moore remains out heading into Patriots game

Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore won’t face the Patriots. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE–The Dolphins remain thin at quarterback with veteran backup Matt Moore sidelined by a foot injury.

Moore hurt his foot two weeks ago in a start against the Patriots and missed the recent victory over Denver at home. Miami coach Adam Gase has already ruled him out for Monday’s home game against New England, saying today they’ll check on his status again after this week.

“He got banged up pretty good,” Gase said.

Moore’s last start came because Jay Cutler was in the concussion protocol. Cutler returned after a one-game absence and 18 of 31 for 235 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He exited with a big lead in the fourth quarter, and Miami got third-string quarterback David Fales in the game for a few minutes. Moore was inactive.

Moore’s gotten two starts and combined to go 48 of 78 for 391 yards with one touchdown and four picks, which comes out to a 57.2 passer rating. In his other games, he’s 65.5 percent of his passes and had three touchdowns with one interception.

For Fales, the Denver game was his first appearance in the NFL since the 2016 finale when he played for the Bears. Fales attempted one pass Sunday for the Dolphins, and it went incomplete.

Cutler put up one of the best games of his career Nov. 5 against Oakland, going 34 for 42 and throwing three touchdowns with no turnovers for his only 300-yard game as Dolphin. He hasn’t played a good game since. In the last three, a win over the Broncos and losses to Carolina and Tampa Bay, he had a total passer rating of 67.2 and had five touchdowns with six interceptions. He went 6 for 12 with three picks against the Buccaneers before leaving with a concussion.

[Adam Gase has his finger on exactly what’s gone wrong vs. New England Patriots]

[Tape Don’t Lie: Dolphins vs. Broncos]

[New England TE Rob Gronkowski suspended vs. Dolphins]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Miami Dolphins puzzled by WR DeVante Parker’s lackluster performance

DeVante Parker hasn’t done anything the last three games. (AP)

DAVIE—The enigma known as DeVante Parker isn’t any closer to being solved now than it was when the Dolphins drafted him.

Now in his third season, Parker continues to be cast as a wide receiver with tremendous potential who just hasn’t put it together yet. Last year was supposed to be the year. Then this year was definitely supposed to be the year.

But here he is with two straight games of one catch for five yards. Parker, who was out three games with an ankle injury, is fourth on the team in receptions (36), third in yards (414) and has one touchdown. His longest play of the year was a 31-yard grab.

“We just haven’t been able to get him back in that rhythm like we had him early in the season (before) he got injured,” coach Adam Gase said today. “We just keep working to try to get his confidence back to where it was.”

The upside, according to Gase, is that Parker has continued to do the right things in terms of preparing and taking care of his body. There were issues with that last season, but that problem appears to be fixed. Whatever is hindering Parker now isn’t related to those issues.

He opened the year with four catches for 85 yards against the Chargers and looked like the type of aggressive receiver the Dolphins have been hoping he’d become. Over his first three games, he averaged six catches for 76.7 yards.

The last three weeks, however, have been brutal. Parker has been the intended receiver on five interceptions, and at least two looked like he could’ve done more to prevent them.

There were two interceptions his way against Tampa Bay, and he finished with four catches for 26 yards that game. Matt Moore targeted him just three times against New England, and Jay Cutler threw his way four times in Sunday’s 35-9 win over Denver.

“I thought he had a really good week of practice,” Gase said of Parker’s work leading up to the Broncos game. “I was a little bit surprised that we couldn’t really get him going this last game. I really felt going into the game that we had all three guys in a good place, plus the tight ends and the (running) back. I was feeling good about it. We just couldn’t get anything to DeVante this last game.”

[Dolphins TE Julius Thomas explains his unusual touchdown celebration]

[Nice win, Dolphins. Now pay Jarvis Landry.]

[Grading the Dolphins after their 35-9 win against Denver]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Circus catch, 98 yards, touchdown: Dolphins WR Kenny Stills continues big season

Kenny Stills is making his case for the Pro Bowl. (AP)

MIAMI GARDENS—It’s gone slightly under the radar that wide receiver Kenny Stills is putting together one of the best seasons of his career. It’s already his best year with the Dolphins.

After a nondescript start to the season in which he averaged 2.8 catches and 32.6 yards through the first five games, Stills is on a hot streak. He continued his recent run with 98 yards and a touchdown on five catches in today’s 35-9 win over Denver.

Stills’ most exciting play came on a badly underthrown ball by Jay Cutler in the second quarter. He pulled a double move on Broncos safety Darian Stewart, slipped and still managed to save Cutler’s pass from hitting the ground. Stills batted the ball around before securing it for a 22-yard catch.

“He just gave me an opportunity to make a play, and I had to kinda come back to it,” Stills said. “I’m just happy I made the play.

“It was underthrown because he threw it so early, so I had to stop and adjust and make the play. It’s a low ball, a tough ball to catch, and I was just trying to make sure I brought it in.”

Stills, who signed a four-year, $32 million deal in the offseason to stay with Miami, has looked like he’s worth every penny over the last two months.

He’s averaging 81.4 yards over the last seven games and has four touchdowns in that span. That run includes his monster 180-yard game against Tampa Bay. He’s currently 10th in the NFL at 16.3 yards per reception.

“I don’t think I played that well today,” he said when asked if he could pinpoint anything that’s clicked lately. “(Denver safety Bradley) Roby made a couple good pass breakups on a couple plays, and Chris Harris had an interception on my side. I really didn’t play that well. I got in the end zone at the end of the game. I can always play better.”

Stills is now at 48 catches, 733 yards and six touchdowns for the season. He leads the team in yards and is tied with Jarvis Landry in touchdown catches. The yardage and receptions are new highs for his three years in Miami. He needs four more touchdowns to match last season’s total.

It’s an impressive haul considering how dreadful the Dolphins have been at quarterback this year. They’re 22nd in passing yards and 26th in passer rating between Cutler and Matt Moore.

His current pace puts him on track for 64 catches and 977 yards, both of which would top his previous career highs of 63 and 931 for New Orleans in 2014.

[Dolphins TE Julius Thomas explains his unusual touchdown celebration]

[Nice win, Dolphins. Now pay Jarvis Landry.]

[Grading the Dolphins after their 35-9 win against Denver]

[RELATED: Exclusive photo gallery from the Dolphins’ big win over the Broncos]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Dolphins QB Matt Moore out vs. Denver; David Fales is backup

David Fales (9) is second in line at quarterback against Denver. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE—There is a very real chance the Dolphins could play David Fales, their fourth quarterback, in Sunday’s game against Denver.

Jay Cutler is back this week after missing one game because of a concussion, but backup Matt Moore was ruled out because of a foot injury. That means David Fales, whose only NFL appearance came last season, will dress as the second-stringer for the third time this year.

Gase, who was Fales’ coordinator with Chicago in 2015, has seen enough potential over the past few years to keep him on his short list. Fales was with the team in the recent offseason and preseason before being cut at the roster deadline and he was Gase’s first call when Cutler went down with broken ribs in October.

Miami is already playing without Ryan Tannehill, who went down for the season in training camp.

Despite his inexperience, Gase is very confident in Fales and would have no concerns about throwing him in against Denver.

“When he gets in a game, it slows down for him,” Gase said. “He doesn’t think. He reacts. There’s a lot of things he does that have always impressed me since I’ve been around him. I know everybody will say it’s preseason, but every year I’ve been around him he’s had success. He just finds ways to move the ball and get guys that are learning an offense to play well.”

In Gase’s eyes, Fales has outperformed Brandon Doughty throughout the year, which is why the Dolphins called him in from California rather than simply promote Doughty from their practice squad. Doughty was the team’s seventh-round pick last year and has yet to earn a spot on the active roster.

In four preseason games this year, Fales completed 27 of 55 passes for 424 yards and five touchdowns against one interception. In the finale against Minnesota, he went 12 for 20 for 193 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

“It’s just one of those things where he’s a guy who hasn’t had the opportunity,” Gase said. “You kinda run out of practice squad eligibility and everybody keeps two quarterbacks now. I’d love to see him be able to keep trying to improve and get an opportunity.”

Fales was Cutler’s debut in Chicago as well. In last season’s final game, he came in for Matt Barkley and completed 2 of 5 passes for 22 yards against the Vikings.

[Bill Belichick shows the Dolphins what he really thinks of them]

[Grading the Dolphins after a 35-17 loss at New England]

[Is DeVante Parker to blame for another interception?]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook