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Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has been making the media rounds for the first time since the team drafted Ryan Tannehill last month, and he thinks the Dolphins' would-be franchise quarterback will start the 2012 season riding the bench.
"I don't think they're going to rush (Ryan Tannehill) into anything," Ross told NFL.com on Monday. "He's going to have to win the starting job."
Indeed, the Dolphins were so unwilling to force a rookie quarterback into a starting role, the team signed free agent veteran David Garrard earlier this offseason to compete with incumbent starter Matt Moore.
Ross said he thinks Moore "will probably be the starter," adding, "I wish him the best." When asked about a possible timetable for Tannehill's ascension to the starting role, Ross replied, "Whenever he is ready."
"And if Matt Moore develops, so be it," he concluded. "We want a franchise quarterback." The statement implies that Matt Moore could become the franchise's long-term quarterback solution, but if the Dolphins really thought that could happen, they would not have used such a high draft pick on Tannehill, whom many analysts considered a reach.
Either way, the early indications are that Tannehill, and not Moore or Garrard, is the most comfortable with the Dolphins' new offensive scheme. Of course, Mike Sherman (the team's offensive coordinator) was his coach at Texas A&M, so he had the advantage of playing in the system the past four years.
Last week, Garrard said of the Dolphins' ongoing offseason minicamp, "First time I've been in a meeting room where the rookie knows the offense better than the veterans."
But while Tannehill may know the offense better now, the Dolphins will still probably wait before throwing him to the wolves that are NFL defenses. Unless the Dolphins can convince the NFL to include Texas Tech on its schedule, they will want to give Tannehill some time to further develop his skills and master the intricacies of the offense.