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For one day, David Garrard looks better than Peyton Manning

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com
Garrard shined at a recent practice. Whether he's the favorite to win the job outright is another matter. (US PRESSWIRE)

If NFL seasons were 24 hours and games were practices, David Garrard would be the unanimous choice for comeback player of the year. The former Jaguars starting quarterback, signed by the Dolphins this offseason to compete with Matt Moore (and, technically, 2012 first-rounder Ryan Tannehill), apparently put on a show at a recent workout.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King happened to be in attendance, and in his estimation, Garrard looked every bit like the guy primed to win the job. King, comparing notes with his training-camp traveling companion Neil Hornsby (Pro Football Focus founder), writes this Friday:

[We] made a list of the top quarterback performances we'd seen on our (so far) eight-camp trip. Drew Brees and Philip Rivers were at the top of [Hornsby's] list; I agreed. After that, he had Carson Palmer, and then Peyton Manning.
But the more I thought of it, the more I thought Garrard should be no lower than four -- ahead of Manning. He was terrific consistently through practice, hitting a bomb to promising free agent Roberto Wallace down the right side, throwing well on the run across his body, and, in general, looking extremely comfortable in a West Coast offense, which is new for him. "This guy's got something to him,'' said [coach Joe] Philbin. "I like what I've seen." I'm told he's looked the best overall in Miami's camp work.

Our first thought: this is why we shouldn't get too excited about workouts and practices that take place prior to preseason games. Almost everybody looks good. But this isn't a knock against Garrard, who missed the 2011 season after first being cut by the Jags and then undergoing back surgery.

While no one -- including King and possibly Garrard's immediate family -- would take Garrard over Manning, here's something worth noting: both players missed last season with injuries that required surgery, both are in their mid-30s, and both are now trying to come back. Manning's body of work is obviously more extensive, but there was a time four or five years ago when Garrard was considered one of the league's top quarterbacks.

Now he's fighting for a job that is essentially a temporary position. The plan is for Tannehill to take over, although the organization's in no rush to get him on the field. Last month, there were reports that the rookie wasn't in the running for the starting job. He did have an impressive first practice earlier this week, and with the team considering "every contingency at quarterback," there's a scenario where either Garrard or Moore wins the No. 1 job, the other is released, and Tannehill serves as the backup. Not a ridiculous notion given that Tannehill is already familiar with this offense from his Texas A&M days -- even if he made just 19 college starts.

Whoever ends up under center for Miami in Week 1, this much is certain: the Broncos aren't worried about Manning. Not after enduring a season's worth of Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow.

In related news: only four days till the Dolphins' premiere on HBO's Hard Knocks.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.

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