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Ryan Tannehill injury: QB throws passes on sideline, but still unable to practice

The Dolphins’ starting quarterback continues to progress from the knee injury that has sidelined him over the past few weeks.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins head into the regular season finale against the New England Patriots with injuries all across the roster, with starters like Mike Pouncey, Koa Misi, Reshad Jones, and Isa Abdul-Quddus on injured reserve and Ryan Tannehill, Byron Maxwell, and Jelani Jenkins likely to miss the game. The Dolphins are being smart about their injured players, taking it slowly and trying to make sure they are fully recovered before putting them back on the field, especially with Tannehill. The Dolphins are more concerned about having their starting quarterback available for the 2017 season than they are about getting him back onto the field this week or this year.

That does not mean Tannehill is not doing anything. “He’s doing a good job as far as using his information that his experience in the offense, when you’re a quarterback, you’re usually ahead of the curve on most things,” head coach Adam Gase said Thursday of Tannehill contributing to the team despite the sprained ACL and MCL in his left knee. “He’s got a lot of opportunity to watch probably more film than what he normally has. He’s doing a good job of coaching those guys on the field any time somebody makes a mistake. He can help them and just having basically another coach on the field.”

Miami’s 2012 first-round pick was also on the sidelines during practice Thursday, throwing passes though he did not take part in any of the actual practice. “He throws it a little bit,” Gase explained of the guest appearance from Tannehill. “He’s not moving, so he’s just out there keeping his arm loose.”

Tannehill was injured against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14 when he was hit by defensive end Calais Campbell just after he planted his front leg and threw a pass. The hit was shoulder pad to left knee, bending the knee backwards. At the time, the Dolphins feared Tannehill had a completely torn ACL and would require surgery. An MRI the next day, as well as a second round of testing later in the week, confirmed the ACL and MCL sprains (which by definition are partial tears), and kept Tannehill from requiring immediate surgery. The quarterback could still need to get the knee repaired, but for not, rehab work and time are expected to allow him to fully recover.

Matt Moore has filled in for Tannehill since the injury, and the Dolphins are 2-0 over the last two weeks. Tannehill has been on the sideline in each of the games. He was wearing a full leg cast and on crutches in Week 15 as the team beat the New York Jets. Last week against the Buffalo Bills, Tannehill was walking without crutches and did not have the cast any longer. On Thursday at practice, he was wearing a brace on the knee.

“When I feel comfortable with what the doctors are telling me that we’re not going to have any kind of injury that could prevent him from hurting his career or hurting his chances to play next year,” Gase said of Tannehill being able to return to practice and game action. “So we’re going to be very, very smart.”

There is no official a timetable for Tannehill’s return, though the team is hoping he will be able to play in the postseason, which starts on January 7 and 8, depending on the scheduling. This marks the first time the Dolphins have made the playoffs since 2008.