Camp Insider: Tannehill's Return To The Field

Posted May 23, 2018

As Ryan Tannehill stepped up to the podium after practice Wednesday, a reporter pointed out that it had been a while since Tannehill had conducted a press conference.

“Back from the dead,” Tannehill joked.

In his first press conference since the early days of training camp last summer, Tannehill expressed his excitement at being back at practice, said his surgically left knee wasn’t an issue anymore, and talked about the confidence the Dolphins showed in him by making it clear throughout the offseason that he was going to be their starting quarterback in 2018.

“It feels amazing to be back out there,” Tannehill said. “It’s been a long road to be back on the field, a lot of hard work, a lot of time and effort put in by myself and guys in the training room working with me, rehabbing me, getting me right. It’s been a lot of help along the way, but it’s been a lot of work to get back and put a helmet back on and step on the grass again.

“I remember sitting in the cafeteria looking through the glass like a little kid that’s not allowed to go outside and play. I just feel blessed to be able to go out and compete and play and do what I love.”

Tannehill said he had his knee checked out last week in Dallas, where he had his surgery, and was given full clearance. Tannehill did not wear a brace for either of the first two OTAs of the spring, but he will wear a brace in games to lessen the impact should he get hit in the knee.

The last time Tannehill played in a game was December 2016 when he was injured on the third-to-last play of the third quarter in a three-point victory against the Arizona Cardinals.

Despite not playing last season, Tannehill made strides in terms of continuing his learning of the Adam Gase offense.

“While I wasn’t getting physical reps last year, I got a lot of mental reps,” Tannehill said. “I was getting all the reps that I would if I was playing. I definitely grew last year, learned a lot of football, now it’s just a matter of putting into action physically.”

Tannehill credited his wife for helping him get through the tough times of 2017, even though he did his best to try to stay positive. When he was injured in practice, Tannehill said he kind of went into shock, but knew immediately it was bad.

The Dolphins were consistent throughout the offseason that Tannehill was going to be their starting quarterback in 2018, and he said he never worried about what moves the team would make at the position.

Tannehill did like getting that vote of confidence when Gase told him personally.

“Once he told me that, I was good,” Tannehill said. “It’s satisfying. Coming off the injury, you don’t know kind of what the team’s plan is going to be moving forward. It’s definitely a vote of confidence in me and gave me some juice in the offseason to keep grinding and get ready to go again.”

Early in the offseason, Gase has liked what he has seen from his quarterback, both from a physical standpoint and from a knowledge standpoint.

“Most of the stuff that he’s done, I feel good,” Gase said. “I feel good where we’re at. I feel like we’re in a good place. I’ve seen him move around just as well as he ever has.”

Back in action: Just like Tannehill, cornerback Tony Lippett and linebacker Raekwon McMillan missed the entire 2017 season because of injuries and are back at practice. Lippett sustained a torn Achilles tendon last summer after leading the team with four interceptions in 2016, while McMillan sustained a torn ACL in the preseason opener after working himself to the top of the depth chart as a rookie second-round pick. Gase said Lippett might be more limited this spring, mainly because of the nature of his injury and his position. “We’re keeping an eye on both of them,” Gase said. “We feel good where they are right now.”

The Wilson way: New wide receiver Albert Wilson had the highlight of practice Wednesday when he caught a long touchdown pass from David Fales in team drills. Asked what the play showed in terms of his ability, Wilson said: “To be able to keep working in the route, to track the ball, to make a play once it’s in my hands.”

Gore game plan: Running back Frank Gore will not be getting a lot of work in the spring, Gase said Wednesday. The fourth-leading rusher in NFL history apparently has had the same routine over the past five, six years. Considering his longevity and success, Gore obviously knows how to get himself ready for a season.

Hairy situation: New guard Josh Sitton has the look of an offensive lineman, complete with a thick beard and long hair, but that might change before too long. Sitton played his college football at the University of Central Florida, but his first 10 seasons in the NFL were spent in Green Bay and Chicago, making for quite a re-adjustment period when it comes to the weather.

“That was probably the biggest thing I was thinking about when I was signing down here is getting back used to the heat,” Sitton said. “Ja’Wuan (James) was asking if I’d rather play in 95 or 5 degrees, and I said, 5. And he was just shocked. It’s just been what I’ve been used to. I’ll adjust.” That adjustment, however, might include shaving the beard and cutting the long hair. “I’ve thought about it,” Sitton said. “I’m going to see how OTAs go. It might be gone before training camp.” Getting rid of his hair is not a decision Sitton is going to take lightly, as evidenced by what he said he probably would do if it comes to that: “I would probably cry.”

Making friends: New center Daniel Kilgore and Tannehill have wasted little time building a relationship, and it extends beyond the field and includes their spouses.

“The day I was traded here, he just finished a workout and we met upstairs,” Kilgore explained. “We talked for about half an hour and then his wife reached out to my wife and since then we’ve just developed a friendship. It started there.” Kilgore says he’s been impressed with Tannehill as a person and a quarterback. “Nothing but first class with Ryan Tannehill.”

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