“Toward the end of the season, we know we’ll probably have to back it off a little bit in practice,” Pouncey said.
Keeping Pouncey at his best throughout this season was going to be a challenge, even without the unexpected first-week bye.
The plan has been for Pouncey to participate in a very limited fashion, no more than every other day, in Dolphins practices, as he recovers from a hip injury.
And it turns out the extra week of rest, and a preseason plan of lots of extra rest, is a benefit to Pouncey.
“It’s impacted it in a big way,” Pouncey said. “Because I feel good. And that’s the biggest thing we want to do, is me feel good to start the season. The schedule that we have, the plan that we have, has been awesome so far. And we’ll continue that throughout the season and see how it goes. If I keep feeling like this, then we’ll do more and more throughout the week.”
Gase’s goal has been simply to get Pouncey through “16-plus” games, so an increase in practice repetitions for the veteran is always going to be subject to intense negotiation. Pouncey is Miami’s best offensive lineman, and the key to Jay Ajayi’s rushing success last season.
When Ajayi ran for 204 yards against the Steelers and 214 yards against the Bills in consecutive weeks last October, who was at center?
That’s right — Mike Pouncey.
Due to Hurricane Irma, Pouncey visited family in Pittsburgh last week, including brother Maurkice, center for the Steelers. Because Miami would have eight days between practices, Pouncey decided he needed some physical activity, so he worked out twice.
Miami quarterback Jay Cutler mentioned Wednesday that overall, the offense was rusty, which is to be expected after the layoff.
It turns out Pouncey feels even more ready for the season after some more down time. The postponement of the Tampa Bay opener contained a silver lining.
“It wasn’t frustrating at all for me,” Pouncey said. “Because another week for me was pretty good.”
Player after player mentioned how Gase has really tried to shift all focus to football.
“It’s one week at a time,” Pouncey said of Gase’s message. “Just come out of this week 1-0. That’s the only message. We don’t want any distractions. It’s all about football. It’s football season. And there is nothing that should distract you during football season.”
Pouncey’s last game was on the road, against the Chargers, last Nov. 13.
It was so long ago, the Chargers moved to Los Angeles and will play Sunday’s game in Carson, Calif.
“I wasn’t feeling any pain that game,” Pouncey recalled. “It was that next Wednesday in practice. But during the game I felt great. I had a good game that day and it just sucked that I had to go down in practice the way I did. But I’m happy to be back. I’m excited. I can’t wait. It’s been a long time since I’ve been out there playing football. But I’m ready for it on Sunday.”