Sky's The Limit In Year Two For Pouncey

Posted Jul 16, 2012

Mike Pouncey more than lived up to his first-round draft status last year as the starting center for the Miami Dolphins, but he isn’t about to rest on his laurels.

As the 15th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Pouncey made good on his promise to be taken higher than his twin brother, Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. He was a Pro Bowl alternate by year’s end after starting all 16 games and believes he has only scratched the surface.
“It went by fast and I still can’t believe how fast it went by,” Pouncey said. “Going through one year in the NFL it just already feels like I learned so much and I just can’t wait to go out there and see how I do this year. I know it’s going to be a huge improvement from last year.”
There were questions surrounding Pouncey’s potential as a center being that he only played his senior season there at the University of Florida. The 6-foot-5, 303-pound Florida native put those questions to rest in his first start against the New England Patriots as he helped quarterback Chad Henne throw for a career-high 488 yards.
Having a brother that entered the league one year prior definitely helped Pouncey make a quick transition from the college game to the pros. He knew what to expect from the coaches and what the training camp regimen was going to be like, and as the season progressed he became equally adept at run blocking as he was at pass blocking. New Head Coach Joe Philbin has taken notice of Pouncey’s best assets.
“I like his quickness number one. He plays quick and he gets off the ball at the snap count,” said Philbin, who is in his first year as a head coach. “There are some centers in the league that are maybe stouter, bigger individuals and certainly that’s good too, but we like the way he moves. We like his ability to get to the second level at times. He is pretty athletic.
“I think he can sustain a block at the linebacker level, which is important in any run game. It doesn’t matter what run game you use, you have to have guys that stay engaged with linebackers. He is good there and he has good awareness in the middle too, be it changing up the protection calls or twist game, those types of things. I think he is a pretty aware football player.”
Pouncey admits that he used some of the criticism he heard about whether or not he was better suited to play guard as motivation last season. He likes to play with a chip on his shoulder and his competitive fire goes back to his childhood when he and Maurkice always challenged each other.
These days the two brothers still challenge each other and critique each other’s game film every week. They have to swallow their pride when they are hearing the knocks from one another, but they also help each other all the time and train together in the offseason.
“We try something new every offseason and I told him this year we were going to try a lot of Pilates and judo boxing just to keep our game on point,” Pouncey said. “You never want to get comfortable or satisfied in what you’re doing so this year we’re taking our game to another level. The judo has already led to a huge improvement and you can notice it from the first day you step out there. I’m better with my hands and I’m better with body control from the planking.”
Some of Pouncey’s teammates on the defensive side of the ball feel like they have benefited from going up against him in practice. That’s also how four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long is thought of, so Pouncey is in excellent company.
“He’s a straight athlete, a center at 6-foot-5 that can move,” said veteran inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, who is in his ninth season. “He makes me better, period. I try to make him better as much as I possibly can and he tries to do the same. We always compete every chance we get and it’s a great give and take with a guy like that that’s so talented. He’s almost like a tight end at center.”
Opposing defenders gave Pouncey similar praise last season, including the likes of Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork. He feels more confident now having gone up against the best caliber of competition and in Wilfork’s case going up against him twice.
Pouncey believes he understands the tendencies of the players he will face again in the AFC East. Since there are no tangible statistics for him to reach for like a running back, quarterback or receiver can, he’ll look at the overall production of the offense as a measuring stick. If he and the offensive line can help running back Reggie Bush surpass 1,000 yards and gain and keep their quarterback clean, that will do, but Pouncey is definitely thinking big when it comes to his own season.
“The sky’s the limit,” said Pouncey on his expectations. “I had an awesome rookie year but it’s nothing to brag about because there’s always room for improvement. That’s why I say I can’t wait to get back out there this year to see to see what more I can do.
“I go back and I watch film every day and when I watch the games from last year, there are still some games I feel like I didn’t play as well as I wanted to. This year I want to be more of a vocal leader. Last year I was just trying to figure things out and trying to get through my rookie year as best I could, but this year I want to lead this team to the playoffs.”
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