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DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) — The Miami Dolphins are still very much alive in the AFC Playoff race which makes the return of their starting quarterback that much more vital.
Ryan Tannehill is throwing the ball 50 yards in side sessions, and the Dolphins would love to see those passes in a game.
Maybe this week.
Tannehill made progress during the team’s bye week in his rehabilitation from a throwing shoulder injury, and remains on schedule to meet his goal of returning Sunday at Indianapolis.
There are significant hurdles yet to be cleared.
Coach Adam Gase said Monday he didn’t even know whether Tannehill will participate fully in practice this week, but sounded upbeat about his quarterback’s recent progress.
“I feel like it is forever since I’ve seen him throw,” Gase said. “To me he looks like what he once looked like.”
Brock Osweiler has gone 2-3 starting for Tannehill but is coming off consecutive subpar efforts against the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers.
The injury-plagued Dolphins are 5-5 and tied for sixth place in the AFC with the Colts and three other teams.
The Dolphins’ eagerness to get Tannehill back in the lineup is magnified because their offense has gone nine quarters without a touchdown.
Osweiler’s most recent scoring pass came four games ago.
Tannehill has said he’s resigned to throwing with pain the rest of the year because of an injury to his shoulder capsule in Week 5.
He’s now targeting receivers on the move, but his shoulder stamina remains a concern and needs to be tested by the intensity of practice, Gase said.
“He can throw it down the field now,” Gase said. “It looks good. It’s just all about how many times.”
Gase is wary of a setback and said he wants to decide soon on a starter for Sunday.
“I’m running out of time,” he said. “We can’t be wrong and start the week one way, and then flip when we get to Friday.”
Miami’s first practice of the week — and first since Nov. 9 — will be Tuesday.
While Tannehill’s progress was encouraging, the Dolphins took another hit on the health front when they decided to place receiver-returner Jakeem Grant on injured reserve with a lower leg injury that required surgery.
Grant ranks second in the NFL in both kickoff returns and punt returns.
He was hurt in the loss at Green Bay a week ago, and initially the team hoped he might return this year.
Miami lost another dynamic receiver, Albert Wilson, to a season-ending hip injury in Week 7.
Receiver DeVante Parker might return this week from a shoulder injury, Gase said.
He said the status this week of starting offensive tackles Laremy Tunsil (knee) and Ja’Wuan James (knee) was uncertain. Cornerback Bobby McCain remained in the concussion protocol.
The AFC race tightened Sunday with the Dolphins idle.
They have a chance to make the playoffs for only the third time in the past 17 seasons even though they’ve been outgained by 787 yards and outscored by 57 points.
“It’s who can have the best six-game season,” Gase said. “To give ourselves a chance in December to create our own destiny — that’s what we wanted when we started this thing.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)