The Miami Dolphins have battled injuries early this year, with Pro Bowlers, starters, and reserves all having to miss practice and game time. Five weeks into the season, the Dolphins enter their bye week, hoping to get some of those players back as the team prepares for the Week 6 showdown with the Green Bay Packers.
Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey has missed all four games thus far, as well as having not been able to practice throughout training camp and the preseason, after undergoing hip surgery in June. The repair to the torn labrum was expected to take three-to-four months to fully rehabilitate, which put him on a timetable for late September, early October return. If that prognosis was correct, Pouncey, who began practicing on a limited basis a few weeks ago, could be ready to resume his role as the starting center this week against the Packers.
Should the team put him in at center, though, when Samson Satele has been able to hold down the position through the first four games? Should they consider moving him to guard, the position he played for the majority of his college career when he lined up next to his twin brother Maurkice Pouncey at the University of Florida? How should Miami handle the return of Pouncey?
Fans have been speculating that the right move is to make Pouncey a guard, allowing Satele to stay at center. The thought is that Pouncey's athleticism could turn him into the perfect pulling guard, while Satele's play has been at a solid enough level to hold down the center position while Miami's guard play has been questionable this season.
Satele, the Dolphins' 2007 second round draft choice who was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2009, then played for the Indianapolis Colts from 2012-2013, acknowledges that he is simply a placeholder for Pouncey, however. "This is Pouncey's job, center is Pouncey's job," Satele told the South Florida Sun-Suntinel's Chris Perkins. "I did my best part trying to hold it down for that man when he comes back, try to make it tough on coach [Joe Philbin], but we'll see what happens next week, see what he wants to do, see what we're doing."
"I'll do anything for the team," he continued.
That "anything" could very well be learning to play guard, a position Satele has not played in the NFL. The best move for Miami could be putting Pouncey back in at center, allowing him to take control of the line. His presence between the two guards, making the offensive line calls, and able to assist both sides of the interior is too valuable for this team.
Satele, however, could become a good guard if he is able to make the transition. With Pouncey next to him, it could be exactly what the Dolphins offensive line needs. And, Satele does not even need to become the starting guard. If he is able to establish himself as the backup guard and center, Satele becomes a huge answer to how the Dolphins maintain the depth of the offensive line. Satele and Nate Garner become two utility linemen who, together, can just about cover every position on the line.
Pouncey needs to be the Dolphins starting center, with Satele working as his backup and learning to play guard, at least in my opinion. What do you think? Tell us how you get Pouncey back into the lineup, and what that means for Satele, in the comments below.