Miami Dolphins rookie QB Ryan Tannehill will make his first career start Friday when the Dolphins play the Carolina Panthers in preseason action. The eighth overall pick in last spring's NFL Draft will get his first chance to show what he can do in live action against NFL starters.
Broadcaster Dick Stockton broke the news on Friday morning during an appearance on 790 The Ticket. Stockton will handle the play-by-play duties on the Dolphins' broadcast team. Matt Moore, who started 12 games for the Dolphins last season, will back up Tannehill and likely enter the game in the third quarter.
After the Dolphins lost David Garrard due to surgery T the end of last week, it became clear that Tannehill's path to the starting job got a lot shorter. Garrard had reportedly been the best quarterback in training camp, but the fact that he will miss 2 to 4 weeks recovering from surgery made it highly unlikely that he could return to practice in time to win the starting job.
In last week's preseason game against Tampa Bay, Tannehill completed 14 of 21 for 167 yards and a touchdown. Those throws were against the Bucs' second-team defense, however. The Panthers starters will likely present a tougher challenge for Tannehill, who only started 19 games at quarterback at Texas A&M University.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin most likely wants to name his starting quarterback ahead of next week's preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons, so tonight will be Tannehill's final audition. NFL teams typically use the third preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the starting units.
Since the Dolphins already have a pretty good idea of what Moore can do, it makes sense that the team is willing to throw Tannehill into the deep end of the pool so quickly. It is worth noting that while general manager Jeff Ireland signed Moore to a two-year contract last year, Philbin was still the offensive coordinator in Green Bay when that happened, so he probably does not feel much loyalty to Moore.
Also of note, Miami's new offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was Tannehill's head coach at Texas A&M, which could give the coaching staff an added sense of comfort with the idea of Tannehill starting.
But if Tannehill performs poorly against the Panthers, he could find himself on the bench when the regular season opens on September 9.