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Pouncey Turning Heads Everywhere

Posted Sep 12, 2012

Second-year center showing off athleticism and leadership on offense.

Mike Pouncey’s rookie year at center for the Miami Dolphins was considered a resounding success, but what he’s doing now with a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill behind him might be more impressive.

Not only is Pouncey making all of the calls up front or the offensive line and calling out the protections, he is also helping a very young right side of that line in guard John Jerry and rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin. Last Sunday in Houston against the Texans, Pouncey definitely caught the eye of Head Coach Joe Philbin.

“I thought Pouncey played an excellent football game,” Philbin said. “I thought he did some things that I haven’t seen a lineman do in this league in a long time. I thought he played well.”

Running back Reggie Bush consistently found running lanes behind Pouncey whenever he went inside and he ended up averaging 4.9 yards per carry against the Texans. Not only was Pouncey opening up holes at the line of scrimmage, he also was leading Bush into the second level.

An offensive line coach or a fellow offensive lineman can only see some of those things Philbin was talking about. Veteran left guard Richie Incognito and Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long knew precisely what Philbin was talking about.

“He’s an intense player and every single play he’s finishing guys 10, 15 or 20 yards downfield,” Long said. “He tries to pancake a guy whenever he can and he does a great job of facilitating where we’re going out there and communicating, but just the intensity he plays with, the way he finishes and the way he blocks guys, he’s doing a great job.”

Incognito described Pouncey as playing at a high level and as having come a long way since his first game as a rookie, utilizing his athleticism to the utmost advantage. He called Pouncey’s ability to play “from snap to whistle” as something to behold, using as an example Pouncey running down a Texans defender after an interception.

It’s that athleticism that allowed Pouncey’s twin brother, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, to explode onto the season in 2010 and make the Pro Bowl as a rookie. The two work out together in the offseason up in Boca Raton and are constantly trying to get quicker and stronger both at the point of attack and down the field.

“That’s just part of my game because I’m not one of the heaviest guys in the NFL and neither is my brother,” Pouncey said. “So the biggest part of our game is taking it to the next level and being dominant on the second level, not just getting there but going up there and making the right blocks. In the offseason we did a lot of training and I can tell that it paid off.”

Pouncey’s development as an all-around center also has paid off for Tannehill as he adjusts to the speed of the game and to the nuances of the opposing defenses. That connection between the quarterback and the center is crucial to the overall performance of the offense.

“It’s going great. I think we’re really getting on the same page where we’re making our protection checks,” Tannehill said. “He’s kind of seeing them before I’m seeing them so he already has it in his mind when I come up to make the check, so it’s not where he’s stuck on one guy and I’m checking to another guy and he has no idea who I’m coming to. He knows who I’m going to be coming back to most of the time so it really speeds up the process.”

The two will find out just how much that process has speeded up for them this Sunday against an active Oakland Raiders defensive front in the home opener at Sun Life Stadium.

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