DAVIE — Multiple hip surgeries, countless hours of rehabilitation, a stem cell treatment, it’s all worn on Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, who conceded Thursday there were days last season he felt he could not walk.
And then Pouncey ran. And he smiled. And he put on a Dolphins helmet.
The Dolphins opened training camp on Thursday and although he was not a full participant, the leader of Miami’s offensive line, and one of the leaders of the team, had been cleared by doctors for some football activity.
So Pouncey danced. Literally.
“The music got going,” Pouncey said. “Seeing the fans and everybody out here, I was just excited.”
Pouncey feels so good he proclaimed his body has plenty of game snaps left.
Pouncey just turned 28 years old and there are four years left on his deal.
“I’m playing this whole contract out,” he said. “Whatever year’s left.”
Pouncey said he was actually nervous to take the field on Thursday.
“I think 37 weeks since I got my injury and a lot of those weeks were hard to deal with,” Pouncey said.
He spoke of “‘dark days” and days where, yes, he wondered if he would ever play again.
Pouncey wants to jump into individual drills and team drills and he wants to participate in preseason games. But he deferred to coach Adam Gase.
Gase said Pouncey is going on a “Jane Fonda” plan, which presumably includes much cardio and not a lot of football contact. For, as Gase likes to say, at least “a minute.”
“Me and him have a little bit of a disagreement with that,” Pouncey said. “He wants to keep me in bubble wrap. I’m fine with it. I just want to get back out, work on being a good football player.”
It was painful for Pouncey to finish last season on the sideline, especially during a playoff game at Pittsburgh, for whom twin brother Maurkice plays.
But it turns out Pouncey was also in more physical pain than he led on.
“It was bad most of the time,” Pouncey said. “I kept wanting to get back out there. That was my biggest thing — keep pushing through it. Some of the days, I just felt like I couldn’t walk. Now I’m back healthy and it just made me really appreciate what I went through.”
Pouncey said he does agree with Gase that he won’t need many practice repetitions in order to be ready for the season.
“I’ve had situations where I missed all of training camp or missed the first four games of the season and came back and I played really, really well,” he said. “I’m not too concerned about it. This is our second year in the offense, so we know the plays really well. The communication part, we’ve got it down pat. Just getting back out there and getting comfortable.”
And he agrees with Gase that staying healthy is the clear priority at the moment.
His greatest goal for training camp?
“No setbacks,” Pouncey said. “Just staying healthy.”
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