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Ryan Tannehill could start this week, paving the way

Matt Moore, Ryan Tannehill

Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore (8) and Ryan Tannehill (17) gesture before the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012 in Miami. (AP Photo/Rhona Wise)


A Dolphins quarterback competition that looked so tight so recently may be reaching its inevitable conclusion sooner than anyone expected.

With presumptive placeholder David Garrard out after knee surgery, the Dolphins may go ahead and start rookie Ryan Tannehill in their next preseason game Friday at Carolina.

Via the Palm Beach Post, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said he “wouldn’t rule out,” that possibility, if Tannehill outperforms Matt Moore in practice this week.

Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman called the competition between his former starter at Texas A&M and Matt Moore as fairly even.

“Both guys have been doing extremely well,” Sherman said. “I’m just anxious to let it play out, and we’ll get that person the reps they need to play.”

Reps are going to be the key, especially since Philbin has said he wants to decide on a starter before the third preseason game. That means Moore has a week to impress, or this thing’s headed the direction it was probably going anyway.

Still, Philbin said: “I’m going to remain flexible, evaluate the position, and decide what’s best for the football team to win.”

Tannehill led the Dolphins only touchdown in last weekend’s loss to the Bucs, on a pass to tight end Charles Clay. And when Clay was asked about the rookie, he said perhaps the most important thing.

“As far as the talent, I wasn’t surprised at all, because we’ve seen that out here all along,” Clay said. “But as far as the poise, sitting in the pocket, things like that, I was surprised at that. I thought he might get some happy feet back there, but he was calm.”

“(Those) can be real momentum changers on either side of the ball. So before you put a quarterback out there, you’d better have a level of confidence he’s prepared for those situations.”

The reality is, even if Tannehill performs the way they hope, it’s going to be hard for the Dolphins to excel this year with the parts they have around him on offense. When Chad Johnson was viewed as the best receiver in camp by some, it says more about the camp than Chad. Now he’s gone, and the Dolphins lack firepower, so they might as well start the Tannehill era now rather than putting it off.