Only a handful of familiar faces greeted center Samson Satele at the Dolphins’ training facility for his first practice of the season Monday morning.
Although he spent his first two NFL seasons with the Dolphins, Satele — signed as a free agent on Saturday — couldn’t help but notice how much had changed since he was traded.
The management team of Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland is gone, as is former head coach Tony Sparano and most of his coaching staff. Of Sparano’s assistants in 2008, only defensive line coach Kacy Rogers remains.
The Dolphins even changed their logo since Satele was traded to Oakland a few weeks after the team signed Jake Grove as his replacement in 2009.
The No. 64 Satele wore for two years in Miami and also with Oakland and Indianapolis now belongs to fellow lineman Shelley Smith. Satele is wearing No. 69 in his second stint with the Dolphins.
“Everyone asked me if it was bad signing back, but this isn’t the same coaching staff or front office,” Satele said after Monday’s morning practice, one in which he split time with Sam Brenner as the first-team center.
“This is a new group of guys. The only guys still left are Randy Starks, Nate Garner, John Denney and Brandon Fields.
“So, I did see some familiar faces.”
Satele, drafted in the second round by Miami out of the University of Hawaii in 2007, was released by the Colts in March and auditioned for the Dolphins before the start of training camp. But he didn’t come to an agreement until this past weekend.
With teams already opening camp — the Dolphins have been going since July 25 — Satele spent his time working out twice daily in Indianapolis, waiting for a team to call.
Satele, 29, said it was tough “to sit and train and wait.” His body, he said, had grown accustomed to working on the football field at this time of year.
“I’ve wanted to work since April,” he said, “and now I’ve finally got the opportunity to do it.”
Miami likely will be without Mike Pouncey for the first few weeks of the season after the starting center underwent hip surgery in June.
Satele, who started all 33 games (including one playoff game) in his two years with Miami, is expected to fill the role at least until “big boy Mike comes back,” as Satele put it. Pouncey has been working on his conditioning on the side during training camp.
When Pouncey returns, Satele could slide over and play one of the guard positions depending on how things play out.
“Coaches met with him all day [Sunday], so we’ll see how it goes,” coach Joe Philbin said. “We’re always looking for competition, looking for the best people to give us the chance to win games. There’s nothing more than that.
“We did our research and obviously he was here [previously]. All the people who came in contact with him in the building spoke highly of him as an individual and a person.”
Although Philbin wouldn’t say whether Satele would start in Friday’s exhibition opener at Atlanta, Satele said he would be ready.
Getting used to a new offense and new teammates will take time, but with a month before the season opener, Satele has a little bit of that.
“Last night, to tell you the truth, it was all spinning in the air,” he said. “But then I came out and got a couple reps and it calmed me down a lot. The more reps I get, the better I get. This is a lot of offenses put into one. I just have to learn the terminology and then I’ll be good from there.”
Satele added he likes what he sees of the current Dolphins roster, saying there was “plenty of potential to push for a championship. We just have to put it together, and I have to put it together faster than everyone.”
Miami missed the playoffs last year after losing its final two games to finish 8-8.
The Dolphins have made the playoffs only once since 2001 and Satele was part of that team in 2008 that finished 11-5 and won the AFC East.
“That was a long time ago,” Satele said with a smile. “We went 11-5, which was a huge turnaround, 10 more wins than we had the year before. I’m looking to win more.”
Satele admits his rookie year — in which Miami went 1-15 in Cam Cameron’s lone season as coach — isn’t one he looks back on fondly.
“That was a blur, man,” he said. “It was horrifying. I don’t want to remember that.”
He hopes this season in Miami is more like his second one.
“We have potential,” Satele said. “This has come full circle. In 2009, I was bummed. But this is a business and I understand it. It’s good to be back. There’s no snow here in December. I’m happy.”