Friday NFL preseason: Tannehill to start for Dolphins at Panthers
The Miami Dolphins’ quarterback race just got a bit more interesting with the news that rookie Ryan Tannehill will start the team’s second preseason game Friday night in Carolina. The Panthers are 3-point favorites on WagerWeb.com.
The Dolphins lost their preseason opener 20-7 to Tampa Bay but Tannehill, the No. 8 overall pick out of Texas A&M, looked good. He completed 14-of-21 pass attempts for 167 yards and a touchdown. He also drove the offense down to inside the Buccaneers’ 5-yard line and appeared to throw his first NFL touchdown pass, but the play was overturned by the replay officials and the Dolphins would turn the ball over on downs on the next play.
Tannehill completed 4-of-6 passes on third down, with two conversions. And he has total command over the offense, which is to be expected considering he has the same coaches and playbook from college. Tannehill reportedly will play the entire first half tonight, with Moore entering in the third quarter.
“He has complete control over the offense. It feels like he’s been playing (in the NFL) for four years,” said backup left tackle Lydon Murtha, who played all five series with Tannehill. “He just takes control, gets the calls out, throws the ball excellent.”
Given Tannehill’s familiarity with Mike Sherman’s offense – Sherman was Tannehill’s head coach at Texas A&M — and veteran David Garrard expected to miss a few weeks following knee surgery, another solid performance from the rookie tonight would almost certainly lead to another start next Friday night against the Atlanta Falcons in the pivotal third preseason game. If that is the case, it would be hard to imagine the Dolphins starting Garrard or Matt Moore when the season starts for real against the Houston Texans on Sept. 9.
Since coach Joe Philbin ideally wants to name his starter before the third preseason game, next Friday vs. Atlanta at Sun Life Stadium, tonight’s game is the last chance to give Tannehill an opportunity to start and play against a first-string defense. . If Tannehill is the Week 1 starter, and Moore remains healthy throughout the preseason, the Dolphins likely will no longer need Garrard, who is out another 2-3 weeks following knee surgery. As a vested veteran, Garrard’s $2.25 million salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the Week 1 roster.
Carolina lost its preseason opener 26-13 vs. Houston. The Panthers’ first-team offense, which finished fifth in the NFL in scoring last year, looked out of sync from the start and struggled with blitz pickups. Cam Newton finished 2 of 6 for 17 yards and questioned his team’s effort after the game.