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Tannehill Returning Home For Opener; Injury Updates; Other Notes

Posted Sep 5, 2012

Keep an eye on the traffic coming into Houston this Sunday from Big Springs, Texas because there should be a sizable caravan showing up to Reliant Stadium for Ryan Tannehill’s NFL debut.

Keep an eye on the traffic coming into Houston this Sunday from Big Springs, Texas because there should be a sizable caravan showing up to Reliant Stadium for Ryan Tannehill’s NFL debut.

Tannehill will become the first rookie quarterback in franchise history to start the season opener, a feat not accomplished by Hall-of-Famers Bob Griese or Dan Marino. This will be his second trip back to Texas in less than two weeks, having started the last preseason game at the Dallas Cowboys on August 29th, but the 450-mile trip from his hometown will be even more worth it for his family and friends.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Tannehill, who was taken eighth overall in April’s NFL Draft. “It’s a big week for us as a team. It’s a big week. Starting off the year, we want to get things started off the right way. It’s always great to go back to the home state. I know I have some family going, but I don’t know exactly how many people are going to be there. I’m just trying to focus on winning the game right now.”

There is no doubt that Tannehill will experience a few extra butterflies when he takes the field in his home state, especially since this will mark the official beginning of his NFL career. But his teammates have not seen any change in his personality, especially those that have been closest to him throughout the process in the quarterback room.

Veteran Matt Moore, who started the last 12 games of the 2011 regular season and was Miami’s most valuable player, has been there to offer counsel to the 24-year-old rookie but hasn’t been called upon too often. Tannehill’s comfort level with the offensive system, which he ran at Texas A&M, has played a big role in that comfort, but Moore sees something extra special in his fellow quarterback.

“I think his focus and his attention is right where it needs to be and for a rookie he’s way ahead of the game,” Moore said. “He just doesn’t act like a rookie, so it’s pretty cool to be a part of something and watching him prepare and do the things the way he does them because it’s just not normal for a rookie quarterback.”

Fifth-year wide receiver Davone Bess describes Tannehill as being poised and sharp in the huddle by putting everybody in the right positions to succeed. His preparation has caught the eye of Bess and the others and Bess just reminded him to stay focused and play like he knows how to play this Sunday without thinking about going home.

Head Coach Joe Philbin had a gut instinct that Tannehill would be able to handle the responsibility that comes with being the starting quarterback when he chose him over Moore in what was a tight competition. There were some obvious things in terms of how Tannehill carried himself on the field and in the meeting rooms that stood out.

“One of the things we like about him is his poise and his demeanor and he seems to be level-headed,” said Philbin, who helped develop Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn with the Green Bay Packers. “The other part that I like is when he comes off to the side he has a pretty good understanding of what he just saw and why he may have done something. He may not always be right in terms of his decision but the thing that I think gives us confidence for a young quarterback with limited starts as a college player is he’s an aware football player. We like the way he thinks.”

There is no way to simulate the speed and intensity of a regular-season game, so not only will Philbin learn even more about his young quarterback but Tannehill will learn more about himself. And that is one lesson the Big Spring native can’t to share with his friends and family.

“I’m excited, obviously. This is a big time for me. I’m excited to be a starter in the NFL,” Tannehill said. “It’s been a goal of mine for a long time. I’m ready for the game. I’m excited for it. I’m just trying to take it day-by-day preparing as much as I can every day and be ready to go come Sunday.”

INJURY UPDATE: Long (knee), right guard John Jerry (ankle) and linebackers Koa Misi (back) and Jason Trusnik (ankle) all were limited in practice. … Wide receiver Brian Hartline (calf), defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (knee/toes) and rookie defensive end Derrick Shelby (shoulder) practiced in full. … For the Texans, outside linebacker Bryan Braman (hamstring) did not practice. Inside linebacker Brian Cushing (ribs) and free safety Shiloh Keo (neck) were limited and nose tackle Shaun Cody (back/ankle), wide receiver Andre Johnson (chest), running back Ben Tate (head) an defensive end J.J. Watt (elbow) all participated in a full practice.

DOLPHINS TIDBITS: Head trainer Kevin O’Neill had a smile on his face at practice as all 53 players were out there, meaning his training room was empty. … Last night’s season finale of HBO’s “Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Miami Dolphins” put a bow on the six-week series, but left one more critique session with the players and Head Coach Joe Philbin to be held this afternoon. Philbin had no regrets and said the film crew actually became “part of the fabric of the team,” over the six weeks. “It was an experience for sure,” Tannehill said. “Just having cameras around all the time, not knowing what they’re going to get you saying, what situations they’re going to air. So it was definitely an experience, but I felt like we handled it well as a team. We weren’t distracted by it too much.” Moore got a kick out of the show and watched every episode, admitting that he got a call from his mother-in-law criticizing him for some of his language. “I thought it was good but I’m sure you’ll get mixed comments if you poll the team,” Moore said. “I don’t think it was a distraction or bad at all.”
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