KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Under constant pressure, Ryan Tannehill kept backpedaling, trying to buy more time so he could improve his accuracy.
This wasn’t the Miami Dolphins’ revamped offense at work. This was celebrity tennis at the Sony Open.
Tannehill, who has played the game only a handful of times, took part in a doubles match Thursday with NFL offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie and two of the world’s best doubles players, Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik.
“I’m not going to be going down to the local club and beating anyone,” Tannehill said. “But it’s fun to do something different.”
The match gave Tannehill a break from offseason work as he prepares for his second season with the Dolphins, who have been busy trying to upgrade his supporting cast. This month they signed Mike Wallace, the top pass-catcher in free agency, and wideout Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller. They also re-signed wideout Brian Hartline.
That means big changes for Tannehill, who had a solid rookie season despite an unimposing cast of wideouts who caught only three touchdown passes.
“We’re all excited about the opportunities on the plate now,” he said. “It’s just a matter of taking advantage of them.”
Tannehill had dinner with Wallace when the former Pittsburgh Steelers star came to Miami to sign.
“It was nice,” Tannehill said. “He was excited, and I was excited to have a guy like him. I think we’re both ready to get things going and start building that chemistry and show it on Sundays.”
Tannehill hasn’t met Keller or Gibson but traded text messages with them after they signed. All three newcomers cited Tannehill’s potential as a factor in their choice of teams.
“That makes me feel good,” Tannehill said.
The first quarterback drafted in the first round by Miami since Dan Marino in 1983, Tannehill became the first Dolphins rookie QB to start all 16 games. He threw for 3,294 yards, more than acclaimed rookie classmates Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson.
Now he might throw even more.
“You build your offense around the weapons you have,” he said.
A converted receiver, Tannehill started only 19 games at Texas A&M. Because he’s still fairly inexperienced at quarterback, he expects to show lots of improvement in 2013.
“I’m really looking forward to getting into the second year,” he said. “I’ve heard so many guys say you make your biggest jump from year one to year two.
“I’ve had a lot of fun this offseason working and trying to improve the little things, learning from film, doing footwork drills, throwing and just trying to get better.”
As for tennis: Tannehill had to borrow his wife’s racket because he doesn’t own one. He whiffed on one volley and was quick to retreat from the net. But he whacked several solid forehands and made it through the match unhurt.
Tannehill said his experience was limited to his days at Texas A&M.
“In college I used to play,” he said, adding after a pause, “once a year.”