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Friday, May 4, 2012
Good first impressions from Ryan Tannehill

By James Walker

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins' quarterback of the future is doing everything he can this weekend to prove he can be the quarterback of the present.

Ryan Tannehill, Miami's No. 8 overall pick, looked in control during his first NFL practice. Tannehill showed off his strong arm and natural leadership in rookie mini-camp Friday. Tannehill says he already knows about "80-85 percent" of the playbook, which is very similar to the offense he ran in college.

Miami's Ryan Tannehill
A contract dispute is perhaps crippling Ryan Tannehill's hopes of starting in the season opener.
Last week, Tannehill became the first quarterback taken in the opening round by the Dolphins since Dan Marino in 1983. Tannehill gives the city of Miami hope that this struggling franchise can eventually turn it around.

However, Tannehill is not expected to start right away. That distinction goes to veterans David Garrard or Matt Moore, who are expected to compete for the starting job in training camp while Tannehill gets up to speed.

It's early, but Tannehill was the best player on the field Friday amongst his rookie peers. He made some big-time throws, including a well-timed bomb to seventh-round pick Rishard Matthews. Tannehill also showed good mobility and command of the huddle. Several times he had to get less-familiar rookies lined up properly before running the play.

"I hope I'm looked at as a leader of the team, especially at this rookie mini-camp," Tannehill said. "A quarterback should be leaders of the team. I want to try to get guys going, and get guys playing together and make everyone around me better."

Things weren't perfect in Tannehill's first practice. He threw an interception over the middle in team drills after rookie sixth-round pick B.J. Cunningham dropped the ball. In fact, there were three drops on the day from rookie receivers. That had to feel familiar for Tannehill, who suffered from drops last season at Texas A&M.

It's not just the rookies. The receiver position as a whole will be a major question in Miami. Dolphins head coach and former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin wants to run an up-tempo West Coast offense that puts pressure on the defense.

"I thought overall the tempo was good and the effort was good," Philbin said of Friday's practice. "We told them in the meeting room our expectation wasn't that the execution would be perfect. I'm sure the film will verify that when we take a look at it."

The Dolphins have a long time to improve on the details between now and September. But overall the first day of the Tannehill era looked pretty good, all things considered. The rookie needs to continue having solid practices like Friday to convince Miami's coaches he's ready for the NFL.

"Guys are working hard and guys are making plays," Tannehill said. "I'm trying to help out as much as I can. Being in the offense for four years back at [Texas] A&M, it's not my first go-around."