One player was missing from practice on Monday for the Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey. The Pro Bowl center, who has been on the team's Active/Physically Unable to Perform list all summer, was in New York to have his surgically repaired hip re-evaluated in hopes of receiving clearance to begin practicing, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly and Chris Perkins report. The exact details of the evaluation were not disclosed, but the meeting was said to be "favorable."
Pouncey tore the labrum in his hip during the team's offseason workout program. He intially attempted to play through the injury, continuing to workout during Organized Team Activities and the veteran minicamp; he was forced to undergo surgery after minicamp, when it becmae obvious the hip was not healing.
The status of the Pro Bowler is critical for the Dolphins this week, as they try to shape their 53-man regular season roster. The first round of cuts, moving the roster limit from 90-players down to 75, must be completed by 4pm ET today. The NFL Preseason schedule will conclude on Thursday, with every team playing the last exhibition game that day, followed by the reduction of rosters from 75- to 53-players on Saturday. Pouncey, by having spent the summer on the PUP list, can be transferred to the Reserve/PUP list if he does not receive medical clearance, freeing up a roster spot for a healthy player. That move, however, will shelve the team's starting center for a minimum of the first six weeks of the season.
In Pouncey's place, the Dolphins are currently playnig Samson Satele, who Miami signed near the beginning of training camp. A former second-round pick for the Dolphins, Satele has filled in well during the Preseason games, but the Dolphins would clearly like Pouncey back as soon as he is ready, and the team doctors determine there is no risk of reinjury. Pouncey's goal has been to stay off the PUP, and be ready to play within the first month of the season, possibly even opening week against the New England Patriots. Starting the season seems like a longshot at this point, with Pouncey having yet to take part in a practice, but it is beginning to appear that Miami may have their starting center back sometime in those first few games.
The Dolphins play the Patriots at home on September 7, followed by a road trip to the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. Week 3, September 21, agains see Miami home in Sun Life Stadium, this time hosting the Kansas City Chiefs. The club heads to London for a September 28, Week 4 contest against the Oakland Raiders before their Week 5 bye week.
If Pouncey were to land on the PUP list, he would miss all of those games, plus the Week 6 match-up with the Green Bay Packers in Miami.
Miami's team doctors will now review the evaluation of Pouncey's hip, and determine the next step in the recovery process. How "favorable" that meeting in New York really was will be determined then. From there, it becomes a matter of making sure Pouncey is in game shape before sticking him back into the starting lineup.