Ryan Tannehill played a little longer and a lot smoother in his second preseason game.
The Jacksonville Jaguars can only hope Blaine Gabbert will do the same.
Tannehill completed 5 of 9 passes for 75 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown pass to newcomer Dustin Keller, and the Dolphins thumped the Jaguars 27-3 in a preseason game Friday night.
The Dolphins (1-1) managed just one first down in their first three drives, but Tannehill got things rolling late in the first quarter.
He connected with Keller for a 24-yard gain and then found the former New York Jets tight end five plays later for the score. Safety Chris Prosinski got turned around on the play, the first of many mistakes for the rebuilding Jaguars.
”He protected the ball well, but let’s face it, the offense wasn’t all that clean,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. ”It wasn’t until the fourth possession that they started playing better. But early on, it was a little dicey.”
Jacksonville finished with four turnovers: two interceptions and two fumbled punt returns.
Maybe more unsettling for first-year coach Gus Bradley was what happened on the sideline in the second quarter.
Receiver Justin Blackmon, sitting out the game while recovering from groin surgery, got into an argument with Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll. The verbal tiff escalated and included several teammates, getting so heated that it got Bradley’s attention.
”It was a war of words,” Carroll said. ”I don’t know him. They started talking trash, so I talked trash back to them. He kept doing it and kept doing. It was more than one play and he kept talking. I decided to be the bigger man and just let it go. I saw Maurice Jones-Drew get into it also, so they all tried to join up and gang me.
”But that’s just the spirit of the game. That’s all it is. It’s competition. I didn’t talk to him afterward. I don’t know him. No hard feelings as far as I’m concerned.”
Jones-Drew eventually stepped in and escorted Blackmon to the locker room. Blackmon returned for the start of the season half and apologized to Bradley. Nonetheless, he was in Bradley’s office after the game.
Regardless of the circumstances, it’s certainly not an ideal situation for Blackmon. The receiver is suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. The suspension stems from two alcohol-related arrests in the past three years.
Blackmon has spent the past two months trying to prove he’s changed and more mature.
”I just told him, I said, spend your time encouraging our guys and don’t get caught up in that,” Bradley said. ”Why add that to the game already. You’re falling into that. That’s not what we want on the sideline. He understands, but it still happened. We’ll talk about it as a team and say that’s not who we are or what we want to become, so let’s take it out of our game.”
Gabbert, meanwhile, was hoping to make a strong impression in the team’s preseason opener. Bradley selected Gabbert as the starter Thursday, saying he earned it after showing poise and progress in training camp.
But Gabbert’s 2013 debut looked a lot like his first two regular seasons. He completed 5 of 10 passes for 19 yards, with an interception. He didn’t get much help, though.
Rookie receiver Ace Sanders and fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou dropped passes, and rookie right tackle Luke Joeckel had his hands full with Cameron Wake. The ball off Ta’ufo’ou’s hands landed in cornerback Nolan Carroll’s arms for an interception.
”It’s preseason, so we are still trying to sharpen up things,” Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis said.
”We are trying to see what we are actually good at and what stuff we need to sharpen up. It’s a lot of trial and error still going on. It’s an ongoing process. We are working out the kinks.”
The Dolphins, coming off a 24-20 loss to Dallas in the Hall of Fame game on Sunday, made it 14-0 on Jonas Gray’s 1-yard run in the second quarter.
After giving his starters just 10 snaps against the Cowboys, Philbin gave them more work Friday.
It included receiver Mike Wallace, who didn’t have a catch or a target in his first game since signing a $60 million, five-year contract. He missed the preseason opener because of a groin injury.
Former Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, competing with Gabbert for Jacksonville’s starting job, was slightly sharper than his teammate. Henne completed 8 of 11 passes for 87 yards. He worked some with the first-team offensive line, but finished up with the second unit.
Both quarterbacks played without three of the offense’s top weapons.
Jones-Drew, who is recovering from foot surgery, sat out as a precaution. Eight others, including starting receivers Cecil Shorts III (calf) and Blackmon, also were held out for Jacksonville.