DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Tannehill’s pass traveled 2 yards before landing in the hands of a young receiver, who dropped it.
Tannehill laughed. He doesn’t mind when a throw to his 2-year-old son, Steel, falls incomplete.
Their easygoing post-practice game of catch contrasted with what preceded it Monday — two hours of spirited work by the Miami Dolphins.
With players in full pads for the first time in training camp, there was a fight or two, plenty of trash-talking and one high-stakes play at the end of a passing drill, with the losing unit required to do pushups.
“It’s a competitive sport,” Tannehill said. “I like what I see from our guys as far as the fire.”
Increasing intensity is understandable with the clock ticking toward another season, and it’s a little louder now for Tannehill because he turned 30 Friday.
After missing the end of the 2016 season and all 16 games last year due to knee injuries, he says he’s fully recovered and healthy. Five days into camp, he’s pleasantly surprised his arm isn’t even sore.
“I feel great,” Tannehill said. “I was telling somebody the other day, I feel like I’m 25. Thirty just sounds old.”
Thirty is a little old to still be without a playoff appearance, as Tannehill is. But given the way such peers as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning aged so gracefully in recent years, Tannehill might have a decade or so left to play.
“He seems to keep getting better,” coach Adam Gase said. “I guess I look at 30 now, and for quarterbacks it doesn’t seem — how many guys do we have that are 39 or 40 and MVPs of the league?”
The best hope for the Dolphins’ future would be that Tannehill becomes a late-bloomer. He has been a starter since his first training camp in 2012, and his best season came two years ago, when he was leading Miami toward a wild-card berth until sidelined by his first knee injury.
He hasn’t played since, and these days he’s not thinking about the arc of his career.
“I’m just trying to get better,” he said. “I feel like I have a lot of good football left in front of me, and just want to be the best I can this year.”
It helps that the offensive line could be the best Tannehill has played behind, easing a perennial problem with pass protection.
And while favorite receiver Jarvis Landry departed last offseason, Tannehill is delighted about several newcomers, led by veteran running back Frank Gore.
“It really surprises me how hard he hits the hole,” Tannehill said. “That has probably been the most fun thing for me — just seeing him put his foot on the ground and go downhill and find a way to get through a crease where it looks like a human being can’t fit.”
Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson give Tannehill two experienced new targets at receiver, and he has been impressed with rookie tight end Mike Gesicki, a second-round draft pick from Penn State.
“He has incredible range,” Tannehill said. “If you put a ball anywhere near him, he has the ability to either jump and get it or reach out and get it. One way or the other, he’s going to get his hands on it.”
And then there’s Steel Tannehill, who’s only 3 feet tall and a little inexperienced, and Dad hasn’t figured out yet whether he should be a receiver or quarterback. But he’s the camp newcomer who gets Tannehill gushing the most.
“I don’t know what position he is,” Tannehill said with a grin. “Right now he’s the fun assistant.”
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