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By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - Ryan Tannehill gets one final rehearsal before officially beginning his run as the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback, while the rookie's team attempts to avoid its first winless preseason since he was an infant when it hits the road for a matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.
Tannehill, taken by the Dolphins with the eighth overall pick of April's draft, beat out veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard to earn the nod for the club's Week 1 opener at Houston, though the promising youngster showed he's still a work in progress after a rough performance in Friday's game against Atlanta. He completed just 11-of-27 passes for 112 yards and an interception in Miami's 23-6 loss, while failing to lead the offense to a touchdown.
Though that shaky showing hasn't changed Tannehill's status atop the depth chart, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman indicated over the weekend that the 24-year-old will likely receive some snaps in Wednesday's contest to prepare for his first career regular-season start.
Tannehill has gone 36-of-71 (50.7 percent) for 379 yards with one touchdown and one interception through the first three games, hardly stellar numbers but still superior to those of Moore. The onetime Cowboy and Miami's main man under center for most of last season has hit on a woeful 41 percent (16-of-39) of his throws with no touchdowns and one interception.
Garrard, the most experienced member of the group, has been sidelined the entire preseason after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee earlier this month.
While Wednesday's clash will serve as a homecoming of sorts for Tannehill, a Lone Star State native who played collegiately under Sherman at Texas A&M, it may be a more important one for Moore. Due a $2.5 million salary that becomes guaranteed if he makes the Week 1 roster, the 12-game starter in 2011 may not have secured a spot on the team following a dismal 4-of-12, 49-yard relief stint against the Falcons.
The Dolphins managed just 246 total yards and were a subpar 3-of-15 on third- down conversions under the two quarterbacks in last week's defeat, and have scored only 30 points over their three games.
Miami hasn't gone 0-4 in preseason play since 1989, when Tannehill was just a year old.
The Dolphins may have an opportunity to earn their first victory for new head coach Joe Philbin this week, with the Cowboys certain to rest a number of big names in hopes of getting healthy for their Sept. 5 regular-season clash with the NFC East rival New York Giants. Dallas' expected inactives for Wednesday's tilt include wide receivers Miles Austin (hamstring) and Dez Bryant (knee), tight end Jason Witten (lacerated spleen), outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (hamstring) and nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle).
Ratliff sustained a possible high ankle sprain in Saturday's 20-19 win over St. Louis, an injury that threatens his availability for the season opener. Witten is also questionable to suit up against the Giants.
Tony Romo may also be held out of this week's test as purely a precautionary measure. The Dallas quarterback did not appear in his team's 17-3 loss to the Dolphins that concluded last year's exhibition schedule, and showed he's already in regular-season form by throwing for 198 yards and a pair of long touchdown strikes to wide receiver Dwayne Harris in only one quarter's worth of time. He made good on 9-of-13 passes before exiting.
Harris, one of several players contending to be the Cowboys' No. 3 receiver, made a strong case by burning the Rams for 118 yards on just three catches. His main competition is coming from holdover Kevin Ogletree, who came up with a team-best five receptions totaling 75 yards in the win, and undrafted rookie Cole Beasley (10 catches, 144 yards this preseason).
Stephen McGee and Rudy Carpenter, battling to stick as the third quarterback behind Romo and veteran Kyle Orton, could each see extensive playing time on Wednesday. McGee, the incumbent at the position, completed 21-of-25 passes for 233 yards with an interception in last year's preseason meeting with the Dolphins.
Dallas, which edged the Dolphins by a 20-19 count at Cowboys Stadium in a Thanksgiving Day regular-season bout last November, has won four of the six preseason games between these teams.
08/28 13:51:04 ET
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