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Can Ryan Tannehill make a statement?

DAVIE, Fla. – There is a lot of pressure on Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill entering the regular season. He’s in his third year, which is when potential must become a reality. So far, Tannehill is just 15-17 in his first two years. He’s never made the playoffs or had a winning season.

But opportunity knocks once again for Tannehill. He has a chance to make a huge statement Sunday if he can beat future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium. Some feel New England is a Super Bowl contender and a favorite to come out of the AFC. Not much is expected of the Dolphins from a national perspective.

Tannehill realizes this is a no-excuse year for the young quarterback. A win over the Patriots to start the season would go a long way in Tannehill’s development.

“I think that I am at the point in my career now where progression has to be made fast and you have to be consistent and there are no more rookie mistakes or second-year mistakes,” Tannehill admitted. “We are at the point where you have got to make the plays when it comes down to it in the fourth quarter on third down. You have to be able to make a play, find a way and that’s football.

“You are going to have those tough situations where someone is going to have to step up and make a play. I want that to be me. I want that to be the guys with me on offense and if we do that we will win a lot of games.”

Tannehill must produce and play smart Sunday for the Dolphins to have a chance to upset the reigning AFC East champions. Brady historically has given Miami’s defense trouble. It will be Tannehill’s job to put up enough points against New England’s defense to keep Miami in the game.

Tannehill split the season series with the Patriots last year, which included a big win over New England in Miami.

“I thought he played well, did a good job,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He does a good job taking care of the ball, played well, obviously, in the two-minute drive. He’s excellent in those situations and that’s probably really what beat us last year down there was their ability to execute at the end of the game.”

Tannehill said he’s excited about the game plan and how Miami’s offense plans to attack New England. Sunday will mark the regular-season debut of first-year Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.

The Dolphins and Tannehill have worked hard for months in order to prepare for this game. Tannehill will carry a lot on his shoulders for the Dolphins this weekend and this season.

“You can’t play quarterback and have excuses,” Tannehill said. “It’s your fault a lot of times, whether it looks like it is or whether it actually is -- that is part of playing the position. You take on the responsibility and take ownership for the mistakes that the offense makes.”