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Don't be surprised if Tannehill starts Friday

If the distance between third-string quarterback Ryan Tannehill and and second-stringer Matt Moore was small last week, as coach Joe Philbin said Friday, it seems much smaller today. In fact, it can be argued the two are tied in the battle to become the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback.

And while Tannehill seems to be climbing, Moore seems to be fading.

Both players took first-team snaps in practice today. I was not there. But The Miami Herald's Adam Beasley tracked the practice and reports Tannehill had the better day.

Beyond that, coach Joe Philbin did not rule out starting Tannehill against Carolina Friday night in the second preseason game.

Beyond that, Philbin also made the point he would like to pick a starter for the regular-season opener by the time the Dolphins play their third preseason game.

"Our plan all along was to get all three of those quarterbacks reps with the first group in the preseason," Philbin said referencing Tannehill, Moore and injured David Garrard. "We haven't quite crossed that bridge yet. We'll figure all that out as the week progresses."

Asked if Tannehill would get a chance to start in the preseason, Philbin responded ...

"In one of these games we'll definitely try it, yeah, sure."

Here's the deal: Moore already started a game. If this competition is going to be completely fair, Tannehill needs to show what he can do with Miami's starting group and against a starting defense to give the coaches an apples-to-apples comparison.

So it makes sense for the Dolphins to start Tannehill Friday -- keeping in mind he cannot drop off the table in practice the next four days to earn that distinction. That would be the fair way to draw the comparison. Moore versus starters one week. Tannehill versus starters the next week. Moore coming in as a backup one week after Tannehill came in as a backup.

Philbin does not want to publicly commit to a starter yet because he sees what we see. He sees his rookie advancing and his veterans falling off -- Garrard because of the knee injury and Moore because, well, I don't know why.

The problem is the Dolphins don't have a lot of time to make a decision if they are going to keep to their original plans. The team wanted to know who would be the starting quarterback after Friday's outcome.

"I've stated in the past that in an ideal situation when you have a quarterback competition in training camp, you'd probably like to have your starter named after your second preseason game," Philbin said. "The plan right now would be that our starters would play their most snaps against Atlanta (in the third preseason game). That would lead you to believe if things were right you would have your starter by then."

But if Tannehill and Moore -- oh so close to one another -- cannot separate, then what?

"I'm going to look at film and evaluate the position," the coach said. "I'm going to do the best thing for the football team to win games. I can stand up here and say I do believe that will be the scenario that unfolds, however, it may not. So we're going to have to be flexible and do the best thing for the team and make the decision when the time comes."

One more thing: The depth chart that will come out Monday will not be the final word on which quarterback starts for Miami Friday. It may be a snapshot of the competition on Monday. But Philbin says this is perhaps the preseason's most important practice week. A lot of things can happen. A lot of things can change.

So the first-team QB on Monday might not be the starter Friday. Come to think of it, last week, the first-team quarterback on Monday did not start the game Friday.