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.
In addition to winning the Don Shula Leadership Award,
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.”
The game against New England will match two of the best special teams players in the league, the Dolphins’
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.