Tannehill Shines in Preseason Debut

The Dolphins didn't look overly impressive during their preseason opener Friday night, but the performance of first-round pick Ryan Tannehill was cause for optimism.

Hours after word came down that David Garrard would undergo knee surgery, Tannehill turned an impressive outing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tannehill completed 14 of 21 passes for 167 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown to tight end Charles Clay in the third quarter for the Dolphins' only score in a 20-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Garrard was scheduled to start after being listed first on the depth chart and he seemed to have a comfortable lead in the battle for the starting quarterback job, the race now could be wide open.

Tannehill, taken eighth overall in the 2012 draft, is the Dolphins' quarterback of the future, but he's hoping to convince his coaches to make him a starter right away.

He made a pretty argument for his case on Friday night.

Before his TD pass, a strike down the middle, Tannehill had a touchdown pass to wide receiver Roberto Wallace late in the second quarter overturned by instant replay. Two plays later, Tannehill missed Clay near the sideline on a fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line.

He was 8-for-9 on his touchdown drive, the highlight a beautiful touch pass to Wallace over a linebacker that was good for 19 yards on a third-and-11. The only incompletion on the drive was a pass that was batted down at the line of scrimmage.

Tannehill, who finished the game with a 106.6 passer rating, entered with 3:16 left in the second quarter to the applause of a sparse crowd still sitting despite a driving rain. His first pass, on a third-and-6, was thrown behind wide receiver Julius Pruitt and led to a three-and-out.

Matt Moore, who started the final 12 games in 2011, got the start in Garrard's place and completed 7 of 12 passes for 79 yards with one interception for a rating of 43.4.

Moore, though, was the victim of some bad luck, and his performance shouldn't be overly criticized despite looking bad statistically.

Moore produced three first down on his first drive, only to see Chad Johnson let a pass go through his hands on third-and-3 from the Tampa Bay 33. It was the only pass thrown in Johnson's direction.

Moore's final pass midway through the second quarter was intercepted by rookie linebacker Lavonte David, a Miami native, but the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage by defensive tackle Frank Okam.

The Dolphins' second-round pick of the 2012 draft, tackle Jonathan Martin, also got extended playing time but had an up-and-down performance. Martin started at right tackle and played into the third quarter, long after the other starting offensive linemen had left the game. Martin held up well in pass protection but also was flagged for two false starts.

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