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Mike Pouncey ready to give ‘big middle finger’ to doubters

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NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Sixteen.

Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey has not played 16 games in a season since 2012. He has been selected to three Pro Bowls since 2012, but he has not made it through the entire season in any of the last four years. That will change on Sunday when Pouncey starts the team’s final game of the year, the 16th contest of the season.

Sixteen.

Throughout the offseason training program, training camp, the preseason, and the season, 16 was the goal for Pouncey. The coaching staff discussed it. They developed a plan to keep Pouncey healthy. They “wrapped him in bubble wrap” during the preseason. They had him practice one day, then rest one day. They did everything they could to protect their center from the chronic hip issues that have slowed Pouncey each of the last few years.

Sixteen.

On Sunday, all of that work will pay off as Pouncey suits up for the team’s second game against the Buffalo Bills.

Sixteen.

When asked about receiving the Dolphins’ Ed Block Courage Award this year, Pouncey immediately turned the conversation to sixteen. “It’s a great honor to get recognized for it, but 16 has been the only thing that has been on my mind, to be honest with you,” he replied. “I just want to get through Sunday, have my best game of the year and go from there.”

Sixteen.

What will playing in the 16th game of the year mean for Pouncey? “It means everything. All the hard work, it’ll prove that it paid off. All the doubters, the people that doubted me, it’ll be a big middle finger to them.”

Sixteen.

The Dolphins’ 2017 season did not turn out how the team wanted - in no small part due to injuries. As player after player went down, including multiple offensive linemen, Pouncey continued to anchor the offensive line. He admitted getting to this weekend’s game was a major focal point for him this year. “Yes, it was one of my top goals,” Pouncey explained. “It means a lot to me to be able to go out there and play in this game. I want to have my best game of the year.”

Sixteen.

Pouncey is not done trying to give a “big middle finger” to his doubters, either. “I’m going to have [a chip on my shoulder] for the rest of my career. I just want to prove all you wrong. It’s that simple.”

Sixteen.

On Sunday, Pouncey will prove some of his doubters wrong. He will finally play in a full 16 game schedule. All of the work will have paid off.

Sixteen.