PHOENIX — The best Miami Dolphins offensive lineman played only five games last season.
Coach Adam Gase has a different expectation for center Mike Pouncey in 2017.
“I’m going to do everything to make sure Mike’s out there for, I always tell him, 16-plus games,” Gase said Tuesday. “That’s the goal from here on out. That’s the only thing I’m going to talk to him about. I’m not going to talk to him about not missing games. It’s not going to come from a negative light for me. I’m going to talk about him playing 16-plus games.”
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.
Gase believes Pouncey will be available on Sundays.
“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.”
Ted Larsen, signed to play guard, probably left guard, can also play emergency center. And the Dolphins might also add a guard/center in April’s NFL Draft.
“We’re always going to have good contingency plans if something happens,” Gase said. “No one is ever going to be as good as him. It’s just a fact. He’s that good. And he makes that big of a difference for us.”
And so the Dolphins may limit how many practice reps and preseason snaps Pouncey takes.
“If you see him out there in bubble wrap,” Gase quipped, “Mike doesn’t need a lot of practice reps. We’re going to do what we need to do to make sure he’s ready. And after that I’m going to find out how many snaps we need him to take, if any. And then my goal is to get him out there on Sunday.”
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