Inside Ryan Tannehill's capsule injury and Dolphins' optimistic return goal


DAVIE, Fla. -- Ryan Tannehill’s right shoulder capsule injury has lingered longer than he or the Dolphins had hoped.
Uncertainty and waiting has surrounded the injury, which will keep Tannehill out for his fifth consecutive game Sunday, and the Dolphins have a return date of Nov. 25 at Indianapolis in mind.
With the help of ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell and former San Diego Chargers team doctor and sports medical analyst David Chao, an orthopaedic surgeon, here's an explanation of Tannehill’s injury. Is playing through it the right move? Is that return date realistic?
It has been diagnosed as a right shoulder capsule injury. Tannehill admitted he didn’t know what that was until the doctors told him. Many of us might share the same feeling. It’s not a part of the shoulder that commonly gets injured, such as the rotator cuff or AC joint.
Bell defines the capsule as this “a fibrous tissue around the joint. It helps contain the bony elements of the joint and it provides stability.” The capsule, which connects the upper arm bone to the shoulder socket, can become overstretched or suffer a tear after repeated overhead activities or trauma.
In Tannehill’s case, it is likely the latter -- more specifically being hit by Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap from behind in the middle of his throwing motion during the teams' Oct. 7 contest.
It doesn't hurt Tannehill to walk around, but he said it does give him pain when he makes an overhead motion, such as throwing.
Tannehill spoke Wednesday on how frustrating mentally and physically it has been for him to deal with an injury as uncertain as this one. He’s a tough guy, and he’s been trying to play through something that hasn’t responded well.
When asked if the injury is better than it was a month ago, Tannehill initially responded: “it’s got to be” before saying that he felt it be a “little better” when throwing again. There’s clearly still uncertainty.
He’s not throwing this week after coach Adam Gase said: “We haven’t had the jump that he was looking for. That’s why we’re kind of taking a step back and saying, ‘All right, let’s go [rest].’”
Tannehill added: “We’re resting again, trying to just get it to heal up because every time the arm goes through that motion, it stresses that capsule. That’s the goal right now is just to let that thing tighten back down, heal up and then get back into throwing during the bye.”
Tannehill’s words indicate that he has at least a partial tear of the capsule, Chao said.