The Miami Dolphins got good news on Wednesday when Pro-Bowl center Mike Pouncey received full clearance to return to practice. He did just that today.
Miami opened training camp this morning and Pouncey was excited to be back on the field. This according to Adam Gase in his post practice press conference. Gase said that it was good to see him back on the field.
The Dolphins are taking a safe approach with Pouncey and while he was in his helmet he did not participate in any team drills and likely will not for the immediate future as the Dolphins slowly bring him back into the fold.
Pouncey missed all but five games in 2016 after suffering another hip injury, this one to the opposite side. He has battled injuries almost his entire career but last season was especially hard for the center. He attempted to come back mid-season but fell well short of that attempt. In the off-season he underwent stem cell therapy to facilitate the healing process.
It’s uncertain how well Pouncey’s hip will recover or to what degree any lingering effects may take hold but for now he is back on the field. Whether or not that holds up through the season is unknown but it is safe to say that if his hip becomes a problem again this season, he won’t like continue playing football.
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Following today’s practice Pouncey spoke with the media about his return to the practice field. He touched on his return to playing and was asked about Aaron Hernandez’s family. Because of course someone in the media would bring that up.
Here is the transcript from his first practice since last season courtesy of the Miami Dolphins.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
C Mike Pouncey
(How is the hip?) – “It feels real good. It felt great running around out there today. We’ve got an awesome plan that I’m all aboard with and I can’t wait to get out there and get going.”
(What is the plan?) – “You’ve got to ask (Head Coach Adam) Gase. (laughter)”
(How big was it not to start camp on PUP?) – “It was great. I was able to come out today and run around with my helmet on, get back used to doing football stuff. It felt great going out there. I was kind of nervous at first because it was my first time being back on the football field. I don’t know if it was nerves or excitement. It was a long, humbling process for me. I had a lot of dark days during the recovery part of it. I’m just glad to be on the bright side of it.”
(Did it make you appreciate the game a little more maybe?) – “Just appreciate … not the game as much, but just not taking it for granted. There was one play that I had that could’ve taken away my whole career. I’m just glad to be out here with the guys again and be able to play the sport that I love.”
(You sent out that Instagram post after the hospital visit. What did you learn that got you so excited?) – “Obviously the doc cleared me to play football again. It was something that all of us had expected, but we always had doubt in our mind because of the extent of the injury. I’m just glad that I got the news that I got and I wanted to get it out to you guys before today got here.”
(What was the most difficult part about this journey for you?) – “The most difficult part I think was just the recovery process. What I had going on in my hip was different than any other surgery I’d had. I could tell you one thing, God is good because without him, I wouldn’t have been able to get through this. My family was there for me each and every day. They kept me positive through all the dark days. It just feels good. Today I just couldn’t stop smiling pulling in because I knew I was going to get back on the football field and get out here and run around with the guys. I just can’t wait until I start back doing everything with them.”
(Head Coach Adam Gase said if it was up to him, he’d be like leaving you right next to him in [bubble wrap]) – “(laughter) Me and him have a little disagreement on that; but he wants to keep me in a bubble and I’m fine with it. I just want to get back out and work on being a good football player again.”
(How bad was the pain last year?) – “The pain? It was bad most of the time, but I kept wanting to get back out there. That was my biggest thing was just keep pushing through it. Some of the days I felt like I couldn’t walk. Now I’m back healthy and it’s made me appreciate everything that I went through.”
(How much time would you want to see in the preseason?) – “As much as they want me to. I want to get back out there and play football again. I’m a football player; I play football. If I can get all of those quality reps that they want to see me during practice, I’m fine with that. If they don’t want me playing in any games, I’m fine with that. If they want me to get out there with the guys, then I’m more than fine. I’m comfortable with it.”
(How good could this offensive line be?) – “I think it could be really good. We’ve got a lot of talent up there. We’ve got a lot of guys that come in and work their tails off each and every day. I feel really good about our offensive line coach and the things he’s taught us over the past year has just been awesome. I think our offensive line could be really good.”
(With the chemistry, how long will it take you particularly to develop, if you haven’t played in a game?) – “I don’t think it’s going to take that much. I’ve had situations where I’ve missed all of training camp, I missed the first four games of the season and came back and played really, really well. I’m not too concerned about it. This is our second year in this offense so we know the plays really well. The communication part we’ve got down pat. It’s just getting back out there and getting comfortable as a football player.”
(What do you think is the most important thing that has to happen between now and Tampa kickoff?) – “No setbacks. Just staying healthy.”
(We saw you out there dancing earlier, did you kind of hesitate on doing the hip moves when you dance?) – “No. Heck, no. (laughter) If that was the case, I wouldn’t be out here at all. I was just excited to be out there today. The music got me going a little bit. Seeing the fans and everybody out here today, I’m just excited. I thinks it’s been 37 weeks since I had my injury and a lot of those weeks were hard to deal with. But I was just excited to be back out there because football has done so much for me and my family. I’m just very grateful.”
(Who specifically helped keep you up, like you said, on those dark days?) – “My girlfriend, my kids, my brother, my mom, my dad. Even when I doubted myself, they believed in me. We pulled through this together. Without them it wouldn’t even be possible.”
(How much football do you feel like you have left in that body? You’re only 28.) – “I’m playing this whole contract out, whatever years are left. (laughter) I don’t even know.”
(Was there a point where you wondered if this day would even come?) – “Yes. When I first got the injury and was seeing different doctors, I thought this day would never come. Then just believing in myself and believing in the hard work. A lot of credit has to go to (Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist) Jon Gress, our physical therapist. He’s been with me through every surgery that I had and this was our toughest task. The plan he had this whole offseason – starting my rehab and then doing the stem cell surgery – a lot of credit goes to him. He got me through this and I feel great being out here right now. All through my other hip surgeries, I never gave him any credit; but he deserves a lot of the credit for this one.”
(You had a nice couple of days. Your birthday was Monday, you got good news the other day and now you’re starting training camp.) – “It’s been awesome. It’s been an up and down roller coaster, but to be where I’m at right now, I never thought I would be here; but it feels great to be back.”
(You had a lost this offseason with former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez. You took to Instagram and talked about that. What was that entire experience like for you?) – “It was tough. Obviously I don’t condone the things that he was accused of; but just to have a friend that I was so close with and I felt like he was my brother and I know he felt the same way, it was tough. It is tough for anybody that has a loss in their family; but that one there kind of hit me and my brother really hard.”
(What did you talk about with former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez in your last conversation?) – “Just about the case that he had just won. He was excited and ready to fight the first one again. Just a lot of different stuff. I was happy for him. It was just tough.”
(Did former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez seem in good spirits then?) – “He was in great spirits in our conversation. We’re still shocked to this day that we are even at this point.”
(How is former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez’s family doing?) – “Everyone is good. His wife and daughter were down here spending time with us this offseason and they are doing really well.”