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NOTEBOOK: Life Is A Snap For Denney; Other Notes

Posted Jan 1, 2016

The Dolphins long snapper has never missed a game since entering the NFL as a rookie free agent in 2005 and he will play his 176th consecutive game Sunday.

John Denney is getting ready to wrap up his 11th season with the Dolphins, and it was more of the same in 2015 for the veteran long-snapper.

In other words, Denney was dependable and he was there every week.

Denney has never missed a game since entering the NFL as a rookie free agent in 2005 and he will play his 176th consecutive game Sunday.

To illustrate how impressive that kind of longevity is, consider that only six other players around the league have played every since the start of the 2005 season. And only two others — Eli Manning of the New York Giants and Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys — have done it with the same team.

“It’s a big accomplishment,” Denney said. “There’s a lot of things that go into that that I can’t control. It helps, the nature of my position, what it is. I’m not taking as much wear and tear as other guys. It’s something that may be easier to accomplish at this position. I don’t think about it too much, to be honest.”

For the record, the list of players to not miss a game since 2005 includes punter Andy Lee, long-snapper Mike Leach, punter Shane Lechler and punter Donnie Jones, who punter for the Dolphins in 2005-06 before his career took him to St. Louis, Houston and now Philadelphia.

When he beat out incumbent long-snapper Ed Perry in 2005, Denney had no inkling he’d be handling the same role 10 years later.

“I was just hoping to get my foot in the door and get a chance, try to make that first year,” Denney said. “I knew I was a long shot, but I didn’t really realistically expect to be where I am right now. It’s been a fun ride.”

Denney has gone pretty unnoticed this season, which is good it means there haven’t been any bad snaps leading to costly turnovers.

“That’s what I work for, not being known,” Denney said.

GOOD GUY

In addition to winning the Don Shula Leadership Award, Mike Pouncey was selected as the winner of the Good Guy Award handed out by the South Florida chapter of the Professional Football Writers Association.

The award, first handed out in 2001, is given for cooperation with the media.

Defensive tackle Jared Odrick won the award last year. The only two-time winner of the award is Vonnie Holliday, who shared it with Ricky Williams in 2005 and won it outright in 2008.

“It means a lot,” Pouncey said. “I guess I made you (reporters’) job a little easier this year by staying out of trouble, but it’s definitely an honor. It means a lot to me. I know we had our little rough patches, but we’ve all made it through that and I do appreciate you guys.”

SPECIAL BATTLE

The game against New England will match two of the best special teams players in the league, the Dolphins’ Walt Aikens and the Patriots’ Matthew Slater.

Slater recently was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fifth consecutive season, but Aikens beat him out when analytics website ProFootballFocus.com made its own Pro Bowl selections.

“Slater, he’s been a great special teams dude for a long time,” Aikens said. “He’s got eight years under his belt, he’s been to the Pro Bowl numerous times. Personally, he’s never come out like, I’m the better special teams guy, I’m the better player. Slater can go down and make plays; I can go down and make better plays. That’s how I look at it. It’s a lot of competition involved.

“The past couple of years I went against Slater quite a few times. If I was a jammer and he was the gunner type or blocking him on kickoff return, anything. I know of him and he knows I’m coming for him.”

THIS AND THAT

The game Sunday will mark only the second time the Dolphins have played on Jan. 3. The first time came in the 2009 season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a 30-24 loss at Sun Life Stadium. ... Former Dolphins quarterback Pat Devlin signed with the Cleveland Browns.

LAST WORD

Tackle Branden Albert on the offensive line: “The future of this offensive line is going to be pretty good. We just have to stay healthy and keep progressing. I think we did pretty good. If we were so bad, why did we almost have a 1,000-yard running back? I feel like Lamar would have had 1,000 yards if (not for) a lot of the games he only got five carries. That put us behind. It is what it is. No excuses. We do have to get better. I think our future looks pretty good.”

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