Dolphins Mike Pouncey is a big “IF” in 2017

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23: Mike Pouncey /

How brittle will Miami Dolphins starting center Mike Pouncey be in 2017? There are a lot of big “IF’s” in regards to the former Pro-Bowler.

The Dolphins believe that Pouncey is ready to go but they are still taking it easy with him. In a joint practice session with the Philadelphia Eagles, Pouncey was given a few reps in team drills before head coach Adam Gase yanked him off the field and put him on the sidelines.

Throughout camp the Dolphins have been taking it easy on Pouncey. They have given him a day off after every practice that he participates in and even then his team drill reps are very limited. This begs the question, can Pouncey be a reliable member of the Dolphins offensive line?

Pouncey and the team doctors believe that he is ready to go but these are the same team doctors that said Ryan Tannehill didn’t need surgery last year. The same team doctors that said Drew Brees was not going to recover and Daunte Culpepper would. O.k. maybe not the exact same but the Dolphins team physicians don’t have a great track record.

Asking if Pouncey can stay healthy for an entire season, a month, or even for four quarters is a legitimate question. Pouncey has not been able to finish a full 16 game schedule since 2012 missing two, four, two, and eleven games since then.

Pouncey makes the Dolphins offense run so much better when he is on the field. That is not up for debate but the fact that he can’t seem to stay healthy is a concern. It’s the reason Gase and his staff keep him tucked neatly off to the side most of the practices.

On Thursday night, Pouncey will play in his first game action since he was put on IR in 2016. He won’t play long but long enough to make people scrutinize everything that happens on the field. In reality we simply won’t know how long his body holds up until it either breaks down again in 2017 or the season finishes with him still on the active roster without an injury designation.

This season should provide some opportunity for the center depth players as Miami will likely pull Pouncey if there is a big lead. During practices after games Pouncey will not likely participate. One thing is for certain however, if Pouncey can’t finish this year the Dolphins need to make center a priority next year.

Thursday will give us a first look at Pouncey post-injury. Did the stem cell treatments work on his hip as they had hoped for or is he a few hits away from seeing his season go down the drain? Pouncey is a pretty tough guy who can handle a lot of pain but at some point he needs to think about his future as well. Some day he may not be able to walk at all.

Pouncey isn’t thinking about the future. He is thinking about the present, 2017. He needs to take care of his body every chance he gets and rest every chance that is given. He is a major cog in the Dolphins offense but a brittle one in recent years. If, and again that is a big IF, Pouncey can stay healthy the Dolphins offense may be very dangerous.