A source very close to Dolphins center Mike Pouncey said the expectation is he will be ready for the regular season opener, barring an unexpected setback.
The Dolphins have said they’re hopeful of having him for all 16 games but haven’t said anything more definitive than that, leaving some questions.
But it’s important to note that Pouncey wasn’t held out of the offseason program for precautionary reasons; he was held out because doctors haven’t cleared him. So there will remain some doubt until we actually see him on the field.
The perennially troublesome hip wasn’t the only problem Pouncey dealt with this spring. According to a source, he also was in discomfort from a bacterial infection in his inner thigh, which has been treated.
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The Dolphins inquired about free agent center Nick Mangold a while ago but have not called about him recently. Mangold, 33, is a seven-time Pro Bowler, as recently as 2015.
People who have spoken to the team believe they’re comfortable with their options (Kraig Urbik, Ted Larsen, Anthony Steen) if Pouncey has a setback.
Urbik is the likely starter if Pouncey is unable to play. A source inside the building said that if Pouncey is sidelined, players prefer Urbik over Steen at center because Steen took too long to make calls, at times, last season.
But the Dolphins remain hopeful that Pouncey will be available.
• One source in the Dolphins building said rookie defensive tackles Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor don’t appear ready to be rotation players. That’s problematic, considering one of them might be needed as a No. 3 tackle.
Still, the Dolphins have resisted signing one of several veterans available such as Dan Williams, Vance Walker or Paul Soliai.
• Rookie with the best chance of starting? Probably Raekwon McMillan, who impressed the team with his professionalism and maturity. He would need to beat out Koa Misi if Misi is cleared after neck surgery, as well as Neville Hewitt.
The sense we got is that Ted Larsen will enter camp ahead of rookie Isaac Asiata at one guard spot, with Jermon Bushrod the favorite at the other. First-round defensive end Charles Harris figures to play 30 or so snaps a game off the bench, as Armando Salguero has noted.
• The Dolphins don’t have much use for Pro Football Focus’ offensive line grades, but for what it’s worth, PFF ranks the Dolphins’ o-line as 26th best.
PFF’s assessment: “After finishing with the league’s two lowest-graded guards in 2015, Laremy Tunsil brought some semblance of competency to the position last year. They could very well be back to that 2015 level again though, as Tunsil moves to left tackle, where he is an unknown. Right guard Jermon Bushrod finished as the fourth-lowest-graded tackle in the league last year, while projected left guard Anthony Steen wasn’t much better in 408 snaps last year.”
(Actually, the Dolphins rated Bushrod much higher than that. And Steen isn’t the projected starting left guard.)
• But the Dolphins agree with PFF on Misi being a valuable player if he’s healthy. We reported Saturday that Misi is still awaiting medical clearance.
Per PFF, Misi was limited to only 127 snaps in 2016 before being placed on injured reserve but was PFF’s 18th-highest-graded linebacker in 2015 with an overall grade of 80.8.
In 2015, Misi’s 15.3 pass-rushing productivity rating was fourth among all 4-3 outside linebackers that played at least 300 pass snaps, generating 11 total QB pressures in 54 pass-rush snaps.
Here are some UM football notes from this morning, including a potential 2018 problem that UM is trying to fix, a UM player’s prediction about N’Kosi Perry and more.