Armando Salguero

Mike Pouncey starts Thursday, defense struggles, other Dolphins notes from Philly

Miami Dolphins Mike Pouncey prepares for a snap drill with quarterback Brandon Doughty during training camp at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie.
Miami Dolphins Mike Pouncey prepares for a snap drill with quarterback Brandon Doughty during training camp at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie.

PHILADELPHIA -- Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Tuesday that center Mike Pouncey will start Thursday’s preseason game against the Eagles. It will be Pouncey’s first and perhaps only game action of the preseason and his first game since last November.

Jesse Davis, meanwhile, is “in the mix” to be the starter at left guard in the regular-season opener, the coach said.

It all makes sense because Pouncey practiced very well, including in team drills against the Eagles on Monday. Asked to grade himself, he gave himself an A for his work. And not only did Pouncey feel “better than what I expected,” on Tuesday, he did a good job when he was on the field.

“After watching the film, I was really proud what I put on film,” Pouncey said of his work Monday. “I’ll see how Thursday goes when coach Gase lets me know. But if it’s time to play, it’s time to play.”

Gase later said it is indeed Pouncey’s time to play.

“Right now, we’re going to start the game with him and see how it goes,” Gase said. “He’s wanted to play in a preseason game so there will be communication with him. We’ll go by gut a little bit.”

Said Pouncey: “I’ll be ready to play.”

Davis played at right tackle all of last week. When Kraig Urbik went down with a knee injury, the team moved Davis and Gase says he’s handled it seamlessly.

“Jesse is a strong football player at the point. he’s a smart guy. He plays the game at the speed you’re supposed to play. He’s done a lot of great things for the offense. We lost a big piece when Ted went down with the bicep injury but I think Jesse is going to go in that spot and do a really good job.”

“The way the NFL is set up, he comes in, he’s not running our plays, our techniques so we didn’t really see what we thought we were going to see when started running our plays. He’s a guy that was dominating once we put the pads on. He’s a guy that loves the competition and this game.”

“He’s a strong football player at the point.

And now some of Mando’s musings (as titled by @AdamHBeasley) based on the past two days here in Philly -- which have been Mercury hot, by the way.

Defensive end Charles Harris continues to have a quiet camp. He was eye-popping impressive in OTAs and minicamp. But once the pads came on, his quickness and explosion seems mitigated by big opposing offensive linemen used to facing quick defensive ends.

It hasn’t helped that he’s also been used as an interior rusher in nickel situations and he’s simply not big enough to bull rush guards to the quarterback with any consistency.

But I’m judging by sacks and quarterback pressures.

The Dolphins use a different metric to measure the first-round draft pick’s production:

“You can’t just get frustrated because you don’t have sacks,” Gase said. “What we’ve been talking about is we can’t focus so much on sacks but are we getting pass disruptions. Are we getting hurries, hits, sacks, all together. If the quarterback has to get rid of the ball sooner than he wants to, that’s what we’re looking for.

“We might not always get home, but he’s making them feel the rush. He’s doing that right now. It’s just we haven’t had the sack numbers, which for me, I don’t care about. I want pressure on the quarterback and I think he’s doing that. There are things that are going to be a little bit of a learning curve.”

Gase adds that learning how teams attack in the run game is also something Harris has been working on because college defensive ends primarily see zone reads. That landscape expands in the NFL and recognizing all these things as they come at a rookie can slow his path to the quarterback.


One thing that became increasingly clear this week during the dual practices between the Dolphins and Eagles is how out of place safety T.J. McDonald looks playing with fellow second-team defenders.

McDonald, who will serve an eight-game NFL suspension to start the season, is working with the reserves because Nate Allen is back working with the starters and Allen will indeed be a starter when the regular-season begins.

But when one studies McDonald, first you have to get over the fact he’s a monster of a figure in the back end of the defense. Then you see how quickly he reacts to the football and how receivers don’t seem highly motivated to get hit by McDonald.

“That’s a big man roaming around at free safety,” Gase said. “When you’re 6-3 and 220, and I might be being nice there, he comes down hill and reacts fast. He has no regard for his body. He has good ball skills. He knows what to do. He’s a smart football player. And with him back there guys know he’s roaming around.”

McDonald is intimidating. He should be a great addition to the secondary the second half of the season.


Davon Godchaux is on a tremendous winning streak. And Jordan Phillips is on a serious losing skid.

At least that’s the picture the Dolphins paint when they discuss the defensive tackle spot not occupied by Ndamukong Suh.

Godchaux, a rookie, has had a solid three weeks of taking first-team snaps ahead of Phillips, a third-year veteran. Has Godchaux won the job?

“I don’t want to say he’s passed him, but I would say right now we’re going day to day and whoever plays better that day that’s going to be the guy that’s going to be in that starting lineup,” Gase said. “Godchaux’s played well and Jordan’s had good days, too. But Godchaux’s had a little bit better day.”

Godchaux must be on fire to be the starter every day since the second week of training camp.

If things remain the same, Phillips is headed to substitute duty ...

“I know this, we’re going to play more than two d-tackles,” Gase said. “We’re going to need four guys rolling in there to be effective.”

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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