Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey had stem cell procedure

Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey is not yet healthy. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was seen on crutches at the funeral of former college teammate Aaron Hernandez on Monday.

According to an NFL source, Pouncey had a stem cell procedure within the past few weeks, but he is not expected to be on crutches for much longer.

Pouncey continues to rehabilitate a hip injury but and another league source indicated there has not been a setback and his recovery is on track.

At the NFL owner’s meetings, coach Adam Gase made it clear there is a plan in place for Pouncey which may include “bubble wrap.”

Pouncey will be protected as needed — meaning preseason practice and even preseason games are not likely a priority — with the only goal to ensure he is eligible to play 16-plus games in 2017.

Gase called Pouncey the team’s best offensive lineman, but the former Florida standout played only five games last season. Still, Gase suggested he believes Pouncey will return to dominant form.

“I’m going to have a lot of confidence, because of who it is,” Gase said. “I’m not going to just turn my back on I think the best center in football. I’ll roll the dice with him for as long as I can because that’s how good he is. That’s how much he means to our organization.”

Due to injuries, including hip surgeries, Pouncey also missed two games in 2013, four games in 2014 and two games in 2015. The Dolphins shut Pouncey down at the end of the last season, when he wanted to play, with a look ahead to this season and more.

Veteran guard Ted Larsen is also capable of playing center. Kraig Urbik and Anthony Steen have also played center for Miami. The Dolphins seem likely to consider drafting a player who can play guard and/or center in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft this Thursday or Friday night.

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