Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill missed the final three games of the regular season as well as the team’s playoff contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers as he dealt with sprained ligaments in his left knee. The injury came during the team’s Week 14 game against the Arizona Cardinals, with initial fears that the ACL was completely torn and Tannehill would be lost for 9 to 12 months of rehab. After MRI results returned, it was determined that the injury was sprains to the ACL and MCL in the left knee, with Tannehill potentially able to return later in the season if things progressed quickly enough.
Now that the season is over, however, the Dolphins are not ruling out the possibility that Tannehill could still need surgery to repair the knee.
“We’re still going through that process right now with the trainers with what our next step is, where his health is, how strong is his knee,” head coach Adam Gase said during a media availability on Wednesday after being asked if Tannehill woudl need surgery and how much better can his play get in 2017. “We’re still going through that. We’re still collecting information. Doctors are still giving us what possibly could be down the road. So it’s hard for us to really pinpoint anything as of this moment right now. It’s hard to say how much better he can get. Every year is so different. Things happen within a season and sometimes confidence can go up and down and when we start next year, it’s going to be a different animal for him. He’s going to have a different perspective. I’m sure we’re going to have different guys on our roster. You’re starting over. You’re not starting as far back as what we did this year, where we started from scratch. We’re at least going to have a good starting point. We’ll see how quickly we can kind of gel as a group, starting in the spring.”
He then continued, “We still don’t have all the exacts. We’re working through that right now. Until we’re told by our doctors and our medical staff, ‘This is where we’re at,’ specifically, he’s still going through a rehab stage right now and doing what he can do with the trainers. Our doctors are evaluating it. I’ve said it before. I don’t have the information to tell you guys what’s going on with where we exactly are at and what happens moving forward, so right now it’s on our medical staff to give us the information we need going forward.”
Pressed one last time for specifics, and whether Tannehill will need “major reconstructive” surgery, Gase replied, “I don’t even know. I can’t answer that because that hasn’t been a question that really we’ve dove into quite yet.”
It seems clear Gase is not ready to rule out the possibility of Tannehill needing surgery, but the team and medical personnel involved seem to be continuing to take things slowly with Tannehill. He was able to return to practice on the Friday before the team’s playoff game, but he was limited and worked primarily with the scout team to see how his knee would respond. By definition, a sprain is a tear, and the ACL does not heal itself, so if the partial tear cannot be rehabbed or causes issues that could threaten Tannehill’s future, surgery could make sense at some point. When that is, or when the decision could be made, is not known.
All we know right now is, surgery is not yet ruled out for Miami’s starting quarterback.