NFL Preseason Preview - Atlanta (0-2) at Miami (0-2)
By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - Joe Philbin has just made the most important decision thus
far in his short tenure with the Miami Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill now gets his
chance to prove that his new head coach made the right choice.
In his first appearance since being named Miami's starting quarterback,
Tannehill will lead the Dolphins into battle for Friday's preseason skirmish
with the Atlanta Falcons from Sun Life Stadium. The promising rookie came out
on top of a three-man competition with veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard
after acquitting himself well in the team's first two exhibition games, and
officially won the job after outperforming Moore in last week's 23-17 loss at
Tannehill wasn't stellar in his first NFL start, with the first-round
selection completing just 11-of-23 passes for 100 yards and taking three
sacks, but didn't turn the ball over while playing the entire first half and
was more impressive than Moore, a 12-game starter for the Dolphins a year ago.
The former Panther connected on an off-target 5-of-15 throws for 57 yards on
Garrard had already essentially eliminated himself from consideration after
the injury-prone 34-year-old underwent arthroscopic knee surgery at the onset
of the preseason.
Through the first two weeks, Tannehill has amassed 267 yards on 25-of-48
passing with one touchdown and no interceptions.
"He's making good decisions, and that's the most important thing a quarterback
has to have," said Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. "I think he's
very much acclimated himself to the speed of the game at this point, and I
don't think that's an issue."
Tannehill should have a challenge on his hands this week from an Atlanta
defense now being directed by Mike Nolan, who had spent the previous two
seasons as the Dolphins' defensive coordinator. Nolan's unit did allow a pair
of long touchdown drives in the Falcons' most recent outing, though, a 24-19
setback to Cincinnati at the Georgia Dome.
While Atlanta's defense had a so-so showing, quarterback Matt Ryan continued
his sizzling start to this preseason. The fifth-year pro was a razor-sharp 18-
of-21 for 174 yards and a touchdown before giving way to backup Chris Redman
late in the first half.
Ryan also shined in the Falcons' 31-17 defeat to Baltimore in the preseason
opener, making good on 9-of-13 attempts for 155 yards with one touchdown and
an interception. Wide receiver Julio Jones has stood out as well, with the
physically gifted second-year target having racked up 150 yards on nine grabs
in Atlanta's two games.
The Falcons will be attempting to halt a seven-game losing streak in preseason
play, which includes a 28-23 ousting by the Dolphins at the Georgia Dome last
summer. They'll also be doing so without the services of running back Jason
Snelling (lower leg), defensive tackle Corey Peters (foot) and offensive swing
tackle Will Svitek, out for the entire 2012 campaign after suffering an upper
arm injury that will require surgery in Sunday's practice.
Atlanta is expected to get Akeem Dent back on defense after the projected
starting middle linebacker was held out against the Bengals with a concussion.
Miami's stop unit should have its top pass rusher back in action after
defensive end Cameron Wake returned to practice this week. The converted
outside linebacker missed the Carolina game while recovering from injuries
sustained in a minor car accident. Linebacker Kevin Burnett is also slated to
return after being sidelined with a back issue the last two weeks.
Middle linebacker Karlos Dansby (knee) and wide receiver Brian Hartline (calf)
will likely stay on the Dolphins' inactive list for Friday's clash, however.
Atlanta, which has prevailed in six of the 11 all-time preseason bouts between
these teams, last won an exhibition game with a 16-6 decision over the
Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium in 2010.
08/22 13:42:48 ET
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