Mike Pouncey, making good progress in his recovery from June hip surgery, said Thursday he prefers not to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list because that would eliminate any chance of playing before the seventh game of the regular season.
Pouncey said there’s “no question” that playing at some point in the first six games is realistic, though he declined to give a target date.
“We had a couple discussions about it,” he said of the PUP possibility. “I’m just letting them make the decision. I hope I’m not on PUP, but it’s not up to me. I want to play.”
Pouncey said his recovery has gone as well as can be expected. Privately, Dolphins officials also are encouraged by his progress.
“I’m going to keep doing my rehab and letting it get stronger each week and just waiting for the coaches to tell me when to play,” he said.
The Dolphins have been encouraged by the development of rookie Walt Aikens, who has consistently been getting second-team snaps at free safety, often alongside Michael Thomas, and ahead of safeties Don Jones and Jordan Kovacs.
Aikens, 6-1, played cornerback at Liberty last season but was a safety when he started his career at Illinois. He said the Dolphins are still giving him some snaps at cornerback.
“I am loving the transition,” he said. “The fact I can cover as a corner and transition into safety makes it a little bit easier. I am covering tight ends that are not as fast as No. 1 receivers.
“It’s great. I can read the whole offense now and see it from a different perspective. [Defensive coordinator Kevin] Coyle stays on me. He’s correcting the mental errors I have.”• Coach Joe Philbin said running back Knowshon Moreno, back from knee surgery, “is starting to look like kind of his old self” in the running game but stopped short of saying he would play Saturday in Tampa.
“I don’t know about the passing game quite yet,” Philbin said. “Overall, “he’s looking better.”• Philbin was noncommittal when asked whether Charles Clay’s knee injury — which has sidelined him for 12 days — could put him at risk of missing the start of the season.
“He’s day-to-day,” Philbin said. “The longer you’re out, the more of a period of getting acclimated back into football. I’d love to have him out here as soon as possible.”• Rishard Matthews, who displeased coaches at times in the past, said he expects to make the team in a crowded receiver competition.
“It’s about being mature and growing up,” he said. “I believe I’ve done that. It’s about consistency. Sometimes, I make good plays. The next day, I would be [subpar]. I knew I had to show the coaches I can get better. I think I’m doing that.”• Before his 48-yard punt return against Atlanta, Jarvis Landry said he hadn’t returned a punt since his sophomore year at LSU. And he said he had never returned a kickoff before last Friday.
“It’s fun because you know you’re going to get the ball,” said Landry, who’s competing with Marcus Thigpen, among others, for the job.• Notable from the final training camp practice open to the public: Caleb Sturgis, back from a groin injury, hit a 44-yard field goal while Danny Hrapman missed from 47 and from 42 yards.
• Linebacker Jordan Tripp got a bit of work with the starters in place of Dannell Ellerbe.
• Damien Williams, the undrafted Oklahoma running back, continues to impress in the passing game. He made a long gain Thursday with a nifty over-the-shoulder catch.
• In assessing his tight ends, Philbin withheld praise for Michael Egnew, who has been largely invisible since returning from a concussion this week. The next two games are big for Egnew’s roster chances.