Players behind QB Ryan Tannehill

Updated: August 21, 2012, 6:36 PM ET
Associated Press

DAVIE, Fla. -- The lilting falsetto came from a 320-pound lineman as the Miami Dolphins' young quarterback walked through the locker room on Tuesday.

"Oooh, Ryan Tannehill," said guard Richie Incognito, imitating a star-struck fan.

Several veterans chuckled. So did Tannehill. As a rookie, he's not above teasing from teammates.

But as of Monday, he's also a starter. First-year coach Joe Philbin chose Tannehill for the job over Matt Moore, who started the final 12 games last year.

While Moore is popular with teammates, they endorsed Philbin's decision Tuesday -- with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

"We're not in a position to pick," receiver Davone Bess said. "Right now, we want to focus on keeping the team together and not having animosity toward anybody."

Moore, a backup for most of his six-year career, took the high road after finishing as the runner-up in the most scrutinized position battle of training camp.

"I was disappointed," he said. "You want to play. As a leader of this team, you want to be back there with the guys. But I understand the decision, and I support the decision. I'm behind coach Philbin and Ryan 100 percent and will be ready if they need me."

Tannehill's reaction to the decision: "I'm excited to have the opportunity to go out and play. I'm just going to do everything I can to go out and win games."

The Dolphins will start a rookie quarterback in a season opener for the first time when they play at Houston on Sept. 9. Tannehill will be the first rookie QB to start for Miami since John Beck in 2007.

Beck went 0-4 that year. The Dolphins anticipate better results from Tannehill, the first quarterback they've drafted in the opening round since Dan Marino in 1983.

Philbin said he had no qualms about turning the offense over to a rookie.

"I don't think that's going to be an issue," Philbin said. "He has earned people's respect, and he has done it quietly in his own way. He has done it mostly by his professionalism in this building and his work ethic."

Camp began with three contenders for the starting job, but knee surgery took veteran David Garrard out of the mix. Moore was unimpressive in the first two exhibition games, while Tannehill had some encouraging moments.

The rookie doesn't lack for confidence, and he started the summer hoping to win the No. 1 job.

"It's human nature as a competitor to want to be the guy," he said. "I was going out there every day trying to prove I could be the guy to win games with this team. Right now, that's the case, but I've got to continue to get better."

The Dolphins figure Tannehill's upside is considerable, especially considering he was a college receiver two years ago. He switched to quarterback midway through his junior season at Texas A&M and started only 19 games at the position.

With Miami he has benefited from the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who was Tannehill's head coach at A&M and brought the same offense to the Dolphins.

"For a young kid, Ryan's a leader," tight end Anthony Fasano said. "He's a rookie telling veterans how to line up. He's a little more confident because he knows the offense."

The Dolphins play Atlanta on Friday in the most important of their four exhibition games, with the starters seeing significant action. When asked what he wants to see from Tannehill in the game, Philbin responded with a long list that took more than a minute to recite.

"He has to do what good quarterbacks do," Philbin said. "They make great decisions. They throw the ball accurately. They make plays when they have to. They get you out of bad plays and they manage the game well."

In other words: They don't play like a rookie.


Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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