Mike Pouncey is healthy enough to take up a roster space, but that doesn’t mean he’s healthy enough to practice.
And going forward, that’s all that really matters.
Pouncey, two months removed from significant hip surgery, did not participate in the portion of practice open to the media Tuesday. Although Pouncey would not speculate afterward on when he will be available, the Pro Bowl center is all but certain to miss Sunday’s opener against the New England Patriots.
He again said that he hopes to be ready when the Dolphins play the Raiders in London on Sept. 28 but added that it was more of a wish than a firm timetable.
“I’m very close; I feel great,” Pouncey said. “When this process started, I was just wondering how long it was going to take. Now that we’re here, it feels great. I really don’t know how long it’s going to take to get back on the football field, but as I feel right now, I feel like I could play.”
Until Pouncey returns, the Dolphins will use Samson Satele at center; Nate Garner will back up Satele.
As for who will start on Satele’s left and right Sunday, those jobs belong to Daryn Colledge and Shelley Smith, respectively. The Dolphins released their initial depth chart Tuesday and, as expected, Colledge was listed as the No. 1 left guard; the same for Smith at right guard.
“I think they’ve earned their position right now,” coach Joe Philbin said. “Now, it is all about performance. You have to go out each and every Sunday and perform at a high level, and this is Week 1. I’m very confident. I think they deserved it and earned it. Now, they get an opportunity to play at 1 p.m.”
Satele is in a different situation. No matter how well he performs, Pouncey is going to play whenever he’s healthy.
The league certainly won’t prevent him from doing so. Many believed Pouncey would receive some sort of suspension for his role in the team’s 2013 bullying scandal. Not so.
In the spring, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Pouncey must undergo an evaluation by a medical professional before being allowed to return to the field. Pouncey has been fully cooperative and fulfilled all requests and requirements by the NFL, the Miami Herald has learned. Thus, no suspension.
“Oh, very grateful,” Pouncey said, when asked of that decision. “Any time you have to face stuff like that, you hope for the best. Obviously, it worked out the best for us.”
Well, technically things could be better. He could be healthy now, so the Dolphins could attack Vince Wilfork and the Patriots’ front seven at full strength.
Pouncey said there is no timetable for a return; he’s working with a physical therapist and a strength coach daily and is responding well to the treatment.
And he is far enough along in his recovery to avoid being put on physically unable to perform list to begin the season. That kept alive the possibility of a return in the next few weeks.
“The biggest thing about it, when you’re on the PUP, you don’t get to practice or anything with the football team, and that would have set me back too far,” Pouncey said. “They gave me the opportunity, obviously, they believe in me to be back in time. ... I’m going to take full advantage of it.”
Patience might be the toughest thing asked of him. Now that the games count, he misses every snap spent away from the playing field. Pouncey said he has a new appreciation for the game.
Adding to the torture: He thinks the offense will do some special things under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and wants to be part of it.
“It could be really good,” Pouncey said. “We seen it last year with the Philadelphia Eagles. They obviously had one of the best offenses in the NFL. We’re just trying to go out and match the same thing with our offense.
“We’ve got the playmakers to do it. [Ryan] Tannehill’s been playing really good. We fixed our offensive line. Just can’t wait to see how it looks on Sunday.”