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NOTEBOOK: Pouncey Returns To Practice; Other Notes

Posted Nov 26, 2013

Dolphins starting center returns to the practice field after missing past two games.



Starting center Mike Pouncey looks to be closer to returning to action as he stayed on the practice field after the warm-ups and participated in drills. He missed the last two games with an illness and had not done anything football related since playing at Tampa Bay on November 11th.

“I feel great. I’ll be out there,” Pouncey said with a smile in front of his locker. “I’m aiming to play every snap of the football game and it’s hard when you’re a lineman. It’s not like you can just come out of the game. Once you start playing you’re going to play the whole game so my intention is to go out there and play the whole game.”

FRANCIS RETURNS TO FAMILIAR SURROUNDINGS

Rookie defensive tackle A.J. Francis was trying to catch up on his sleep Monday morning up in New England after the Patriots’ Sunday night overtime win against the Denver Broncos and less than 24 hours later he was back in the Miami Dolphins locker room.

For Francis, who Miami originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after April’s NFL Draft, it must have felt like some crazy dream. He had worked hard throughout training camp to gain the confidence of Miami’s coaching staff and figured he’d at least land on the practice squad, but New England plucked him off waivers first, and this late in the season he had no reason to think his phone was going to ring.

“I woke up with 10 missed calls from my dad and I thought something bad happened so I called him back,” said Francis, who was a four-year letterman at the University of Maryland. “He said, ‘Your agent’s been trying to get in contact with you. He keeps calling me and he said you’re not answering.’ It was like 9 in the morning and we had the day off and I was going to sleep in until probably at least 10. So I jumped up and called my agent he told me that (Dolphins General Manager) Jeff Ireland called him and asked him if I’d be willing to join the active roster and leave the practice squad in New England.

“I said, ‘Absolutely.’ So I jumped right up, waited for a call from Mr. Ireland and he set everything in motion. I packed as much as I could in my two suitcases and got on a flight around 2 p.m. and got down here around 5, so it was a crazy day for sure. … I’m back to the same weight I was when I first got here and it’s a blessing because a lot of people don’t get these opportunities. I’m really looking forward to getting an opportunity to play and prove I can play and I’ve still got a lot to prove here and I’m ready to work.”

Head Coach Joe Philbin was pleased to have Francis back in the fold on his defensive line. 
“We like his potential. He worked hard every single day he was here,” Philbin said. “He was here for OTAs and the preseason and training camp and we think he’s a guy who has a bright future.”

For Francis, the fact that he landed with the team he started with makes this a much easier transition than when he left South Florida to joint the Patriots and he was happy to see so many familiar faces.

“It felt good,” he said. “When I went up to New England the only person I really knew was my college roommate, Joe Vellano. I come back down here and I know 48 of the 53 guys that are here so it helped a lot to be honest. … It was tough going up to New England trying to learn the system on the fly while they’re not teaching the system because they were preparing for a game. It took me closer to a month to get completely familiar with the system but when I got the call yesterday morning I just studied all my old notes the whole flight for three-and-a-half hours and I’m pretty much back to where I was when I left so I’m excited.”

Perhaps Francis will get to test his knowledge Sunday against the Jets.

THIS AND THAT

Despite gray skies, the team practiced outdoors during the portion that was open to the media, which could help the Dolphins this Sunday up at the Meadowlands. A winter storm is forecast for the Northeast in the coming days that is expected to bring rain, snow and icy conditions.

NOSTALGIC TUESDAY TUNES

Nothing wrong with a little Motown and some classic 1960s rock and roll to get the practice week started for the Dolphins during their stretching period. The legendary James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” started things off and that was followed by the iconic “Purple Haze” by the late Jimi Hendrix.

THE LAST WORD

“He’s a smart guy, he’s going to talk a lot and he’s going to try to get in your head. So you’ve just got to make plays and shut him up. If you shut him up early I think it’ll be a log day. If not it could be the other way around. It could be a long day for you, so you’ve just got to try to make plays on him early, stay into the game and not get caught up in the extra stuff with him. I know he’s going to talk. That’s what he does but at the same time he’s a guy who can talk and back it up so you can’t take anything away from him.” – wide receiver Mike Wallace on Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie

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