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Dolphins QB Tannehill sits drills, likely out Sunday at Steelers | TribLIVE.com
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Dolphins QB Tannehill sits drills, likely out Sunday at Steelers

The Associated Press
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Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, right, watches as quarterback Matt Moore (8) throws a pass during NFL football practice, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 in Davie, Fla. Tannehill didn't take part in practice, making it unlikely he'll return from a left knee injury. The Dolphins play the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC Wild-Card game Sunday.

DAVIE, Fla. — Ryan Tannehill stood on the practice field Wednesday wearing a cap, T-shirt and knee brace, idly spinning a ball in his hands as he watched teammate Matt Moore throw.

That’s how Tannehill is preparing for the Miami Dolphins’ playoff game Sunday at the Steelers, where he will also likely be a spectator.

The Dolphins’ No. 1 quarterback sat out practice Wednesday, making it unlikely he will return from a sprained left knee for the team’s first postseason game since 2008.

“We may run out of time this week,” coach Adam Gase said.

Tannehill has missed the past three games. Veteran Matt Moore, who is 2-1 as Tannehill’s replacement, will make his first career postseason start “unless something changes drastically here in the next two days or three days,” Gase said.

However, Gase said Tannehill’s knee improves a little every day, and it’s still possible Tannehill will practice this week. One workout — even Friday — might be enough to clear him for the game, Gase said.

The coach said he needs to see Tannehill in both individual and team drills to assess his mobility before deciding he’s ready to play. It would be difficult to start Tannehill against the Steelers if he doesn’t practice, Gase said.

“To throw him back there and say, ‘Don’t move, and if anybody gets close to you, go down,’ that’s not really an option for us,” Gase said. “It’s not his style of football. We have to make sure that we feel comfortable with the way that he’s moving around. … I don’t want to jeopardize his career or next season by putting him in a position to where he can’t defend himself.”

Tannehill hadn’t missed a game in five NFL seasons until he was sidelined against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14. He began throwing on the side last week and is frustrated not to be practicing, Gase and Moore said.

“He’s going crazy,” said Moore, a close friend. “That’s just who he is. He wants to compete.”

Tannehill threw for 252 yards in Week 6 to help Miami beat Pittsburgh, 30-15. The Steelers spoke Wednesday as though they expect to face Moore this time.

“He’s the one handling the steering wheel,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said. “He’s going to do everything he can to make sure the team is in the best position. We’re just going to try and stop him.”

Moore is less mobile than the athletic Tannehill, and the Steelers figure he’ll compensate by throwing more quickly.

“We’re going to definitely look forward to that,” cornerback Artie Burns said. “You know the ball is going to be coming out fast because he’s not moving. The pressure is going to come; he’s going to get rid of it.”

Moore has eight touchdown passes, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 105.6, which is higher than Tannehill’s 93.5. Moore said he’s unfazed by any uncertainty regarding how long he’ll remain the starter.

“I’m preparing like I have the past couple of weeks,” he said. “That’s all I can do. There is enough to worry about with Pittsburgh, so that’s where my focus is.”

Moore’s postseason debut would come in his 10th NFL season. The last time the Steelers played a quarterback making his postseason debut was in the wild-card game five years ago, when Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns, including the 80-yard game winner to Demaryius Thomas on the first snap of overtime to give Denver a 29-23 victory.

The Broncos’ quarterbacks coach that season: Adam Gase.

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