Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen spoke with the media on Thursday to talk about the Ryan Tannehill injury, and the approach to practicing without key offensive players.
The Miami Dolphins had their worst day Thursday of what has already been a bad week as far as injuries go. The Dolphins got the ultimate scare when Ryan Tannehill went down with an injury to the same knee that shortened his season last year. Initially, reports came back claiming that there was no structural damage, but the Dolphins are weighing options on how to proceed, and season-ending surgery is a high possibility.
Who and when the Dolphins plan on signing a new quarterback remains in question, but Matt Moore will be the starter for now.
As if Tannehill’s injury couldn’t be bad enough, Ted Larsen also had to leave practice early with an apparent bicep injury. It’s now being reported that Larsen tore his bicep, and is expected to miss some time well into the regular season. The Dolphins are already practicing without center Mike Pouncey, who they want to bring along slowly as he tries to return from his surgically repaired hip. This news sort of went under the radar because of the attention to Tannehill, but Larsen was likely going to be a starter heading into Week 1, so this is another blow for an already thin offensive line.
Earlier this week, Jay Ajayi was diagnosed with a concussion that will keep him out of action for the time being. It’s only been a week into training camp, but already it’s been a bad one for Miami.
Dolphins OC Clyde Christensen spoke with the media on Thursday to address the Tannehill injury, and how the team is approaching practice without some of their top offensive players. Here is the full transcript from the interview courtesy of MiamiDolphins.com.
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen
(What did you see when QB Ryan Tannehill went down?) – “I saw him buckle and go down. I saw it from a distance. I didn’t see any details. I don’t know anything on it. Obviously, we just finished practice. We’ll get the report when we go in.”
(As far as you know, it was non-contact? QB Ryan Tannehill maybe stepped…) – “There was no contact on the play. That was all I really saw.”
(What’s your initial reaction when that happens?) – “The initial reaction is next man up and you’ve got to just keep going and you got to keep guys going and you can’t let the air go out of practice. That’s football, and it’s going to happen somewhere in this season. It’s going to happen somewhere in a game. So part of it is just getting the right reaction (like), back in the huddle, the game doesn’t stop. You go on to the next play and we go. Then obviously my personal thing is, boy, I sure hope it isn’t serious.”
(Is that kind of what happened? The air came out of practice there for a couple minutes while you guys were checking?) – “I don’t think so. I think more probably the defense got after the offense. I felt maybe just for a little bit. But again, the reaction has to be that. That is this game. That’s this game and we faced it last year for a while. As a coach, you just kick to your coaching mode and go on to the next thing, and we’ve got to keep going.”
(In your coaching mode, you’re out there without QB Ryan Tannehill, without C Mike Pouncey and without RB Jay Ajayi. What changes for you in that situation?) – “Nothing really. Just keep getting the next guy ready. Again, it’s really kind of good practice that way, because it’s real. It’s kind of good practice coaching and good practice getting the right mentality in your team that this stuff happens. This stuff happens and you’ve just got to go, whether it’s a cancelled flight or a late flight or a hotel mess up or whatever happens. Whatever it is, you’ve got to be able to react to it. That part of it, there’s some teaching that we can do from this thing that’s really valuable.”
(Had QB Ryan Tannehill been looking 100 percent to you?) – “Ryan has looked 100 percent to me. Yes, he really has. He has been 100 percent, I believe.”
(Can you talk about the confidence you have in QB Matt Moore since you saw him in action and he played in games last year?) – “Yes, you guys know how I feel about him. I love Matt Moore. I sure don’t want to move on past … Move on until we find out what the heck is going on in there. But sure, there’s a reason we have Matt Moore here, and we hope he never has to play. And if he does, he’ll be ready, and that’s the way it is.”
(Talk about your running back depth, now with RB Jay Ajayi out. What have you seen out of RB Kenyan Drake this year and RB Damien Williams the rest of the guys?) – “I think Damien gives us a really solid backup. I think Kenyan continues to push forward and get better. He has a chance to be a really, really good back in this league. He’s explosive. They’re getting a ton of reps. They’re really good special teams players. I think we got a deep room there, especially when Jay is healthy and rolling. That’s a deep room. Now we’re getting a great look at the rookie (De’Veon Smith) and the two other guys Senorise (Perry) and (Storm Johnson). We’ll get a good look at those guys. We’ve got a really good room there. There’s going to be some tough decisions in that room, and this does give us a chance to rep some other guys. So if there is a silver lining, I’d rather do it where we pull them out and not through something happening to someone. But the silver lining is that it does give us a chance to look at some guys and get an evaluation and get them some reps that they really need.”
(How’s your new left tackle, T Laremy Tunsil, looking?) – “He has been solid. He hasn’t been perfect, but I think he looks at home there. I think he is what we all thought he was, and he has a chance to be really good. He has had some ups and downs. This defensive line, it’s really good practice for him going against this defensive line. We get good work on these guys. We haven’t handled them well, but I think there’ll be some benefit down the road that we’ll get better and better and better, and then all of a sudden hopefully when the game comes, we won’t see any tougher situations than we’re seeing even in practice.”
(Is T Laremy Tunsil’s personality different in Year 2?) – “It really hasn’t been. He has been … He has always been delightful. He has always been kind of an easy-going guy. He always takes it as it comes. I think that’s what’s going to make him a really, really good left tackle. The next play – if something bad happens, he learns and moves on to the next play. I think that’s one of the really good characteristics he has. He has a nice, short memory and even-keeled personality, which are good characteristics to have at left tackle.”
(We’ve seen growth with WR Jakeem Grant as a receiver. Are there still a bit too many drops?) – “He has had a couple drops the last couple days, but overall he’s improving. He is one of the most improved guys we’ve had. We moved him outside, as I told you guys last time in the spring, and I think it has helped him a little bit. I think we can get some big plays out of him. He’s a really, really good receiver. The drops have been kind of throughout the unit. We dropped a lot of balls, especially these last three days. We’ve got to eliminate those, but I think we’ll be okay there. Jakeem has really good hands. He’s a really good receiver. As he keeps learning and getting more steady, where the quarterbacks get confidence, where they know where he’s going to be. He’s a little guy and he’s a jittery guy, and he’s a different speed from your average guy. We’ve been stressing that you have to be a steady target. You’ve got to be smooth. He’s like trying to hit one of those jitterbugs or something. He’s all over the place. So we’ve been trying to eliminate that, and he has done a lot better job with it.”
(How about WR Leonte Carroo?) – “Carroo is improving. Carroo continues to improve. He continues to be steady. He has had a solid camp. He has had his mistakes and a couple things, but he’s a good, big, physical guy. I think he’s going to take a big step forward this year.”
(Do you guys have a good feel for TE Julius Thomas, how to get him the ball? I know Head Coach Adam Gase did in Denver, but out here?) – “I think slowly, but surely. Adam does. Now we just got to get the quarterbacks with a good feel for what he does well. Where does he like the ball? Is it over the top? Is it back shoulder? Is it a jump ball? What does he like? I think it’s more the quarterbacks feeling Julius out than … Adam knows how to use him. He’s had him and they’ve had a lot of experience together. But the quarterbacks have to get the same thing. It doesn’t help that the head coach says, ‘Here’s what he does well.’ You’ve still got to get a feel for, how fast does it happen, when does it happen, where does he like the ball – those kind of things – how does he come off contact, all those things.”
(Do you have any timetable for when the timing should be down with TE Julius Thomas? End of training camp? By the fourth game of the season?) – “I would hope that somewhere midway through the second, third preseason game. By the third preseason game, we ought to be on the same page and rolling pretty good and have a pretty good feel. It never goes quite like you planned; but if you had a plan as a coach, you’d love for those new guys to … Now they’ve worked together, they’ve got an offseason, now they got a good training camp, now you got a good couple preseason games series under their belt, and hopefully you’re off and running.”