Dolphins center Mike Pouncey participated in some 11-on-11 team drills for the first time in training camp on Saturday, pronounced his troublesome hip healthy and said he has “no doubt” he will be able to play in the Sept. 10 regular-season opener against Tampa Bay.
But whether Pouncey plays in the preseason remains very much in question.
“I always want to, but if coach [Adam] Gase doesn't want me to, I won't,” Pouncey said.
Gase said the decision hasn’t been made.
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“I'm going to talk with him about it, because he wants to,” Gase said. “I just want to do the right thing. We're just going to keep thinking about it, keep talking with him, see how he looks out there in practice. That Philly week [during joint practices before the third preseason game in Pennsylvania] will be a great indicator for us, because it's just going against somebody different. When you do those practices against different teams, it's a different feel for you.”
Pouncey, who played in only five games last season because of his hip injury, had been limited to individual work during the first two weeks of training camp and didn’t play in Thursday’s preseason opener against Atlanta. He took a few snaps in Saturday’s 11-on-11 work.
“It was fun to be out there,” said Pouncey, who underwent stem-cell treatment on his hip this offseason. “I feel I needed this day to get my mojo back. I couldn’t even sleep last night; I don’t know if I was nervous or just excited, but I was just ready to get back out on the football field and, I hate to say it, but just making mistakes again. The only way to get better is you can make mistakes. Today was my first true test if I could go back out and play football, and it went well. It’s all the way healed back up. It’s just that we want to ease back into it since I’ve been out out for eight months.”
Pouncey said he and new quarterback Jay Cutler worked on snapping “a lot” on Saturday and “he’s comfortable. I’m comfortable. We’re just right now just getting used to his snap count and we’ll be ready to roll. We’re good. We’ll be working through walk-throughs, we’ll work sporadically throughout practice. Jay is a pro. I’m a pro. We’ve both been doing this for a long time, so we’ll do it good whenever we’re both in there.”
Right tackle Ja’Wuan James did not play Thursday or practice Saturday because of a shoulder injury.
“We’re trying to give him a rest,” Gase said. “He’s been sore. It’s not going to affect his play. It’s a pain management deal. We’re trying to take some hits off him.”
Left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who had missed five days for personal reasons, was back with the team.
• Cornerback Tony Lippett missed practice with a foot issue. “His foot wasn’t quite feeling right,” Gase said. “We tried to work him out before the game. I don’t know if we need new shoes or what’s going on but we’ve been talking about some different ways to just get his feet kind of right.”
Two other members of the secondary are also out: safety Nate Allen (groin) and cornerback/safety Walt Aikens (back).
• Running back Jay Ajayi did not practice and remains in the concussion protocol system.
• Receivers Rashawn Scott (foot), Isaiah Ford (knee) and Malcolm Lewis (concussion) remain out.
• Gase was non-committal about whether Cutler will play Thursday against Baltimore at Hard Rock Stadium.
"I need to see him keep going and see where his comfort level is,” Gase said. “If he feels good enough to go on Thursday where the pocket feel is there and he feels like he's in a good place, then he'll go. If he doesn't, then Matt (Moore) will start the game and we'll roll from there. I really can't say right now, because today ...
“We were talking through the whole thing and he can tell me what's going on and trying to get used to the rush. This was really the first day he had multiple plays of our pass rush coming at him with (Ndamukong) Suh and Cam (Wake) and (Andre) Branch coming off the edge. It speeds up real fast when those guys are coming at you."
Cutler threw two interceptions during Saturday’s practice, both in the end zone - one to Reshad Jones and the other to Byron Maxwell, who returned it for a touchdown.
Cutler also threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker, beating Xavien Howard.
Matt Moore threw two interceptions in practice, to Alterraun Verner and Maurice Smith.
Here’s a look at where the Dolphins stand in their efforts to replace Raekwon McMillan and their plans at the position.... And here’s a Saturday update with the latest bizarre twist in the Marlins sale, which was agreed to, in writing, on Friday.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz