When the chips were down and the Miami Dolphins offensive line was in shambles after the first four games of the season, it was Dolphins center Mike Pouncey who answered the call coming off his injury and volunteered to move over to right guard, a position he hadn't played since his college days at the University of Florida.
But now, with a brand new 5-year, $52.15 million contract and a brand new appreciation for his fellow offensive linemen, Pouncey is extremely happy to be back at center where he's made a name for himself as one of the best in the National Football League.
“It’s a position I feel comfortable at,” Pouncey said about playing center, “I like to be the guy going up and getting the front set. I like to be kind of like the quarterback of the offensive line.”
Although he's best at center, Pouncey showed last season that he could hold his own at guard if it was necessary. He also admitted that playing guard wasn't nearly as easy as he expected it to be, and as such he gained a new respect for guards overall.
“I learned to appreciate my offensive guards,” Pouncey said, “That’s a tough position. I took it all in last year. I got better and better each week. I didn’t appreciate my guards until I played the position. You’re playing in a lot more space. You’ve got to block a lot of guys one-on-one in pass protection. That’s the biggest thing. In the run game, it was easier because I didn’t have to snap the ball then run off on guys.”
The former Florida Gator will be 26 years old next month, and during his time in the NFL, he's gone through a lot of difficulties. His talent was never in question, but his fate with his only team thus far was up for grabs thanks to the multiple off-the-field debacles he'd put himself through - such as the "Free Hernandez" hats he and his brother Maurkice wore in support of their former teammate.
It was an emotional Mike Pouncey who vowed to become a better leader for the Miami Dolphins when he signed his new contract, and the goals he's set for himself this upcoming reflect that transformation.
“I just want to help this team get to the playoffs." Pouncey said. "I feel like with team success comes individual success, so I just want to help this team get to the playoffs.”
Of course, that isn't the only motivation that Pouncey has to get his team into the playoffs. There is also apparently quite a bit of brotherly rivalry driving Pouncey to make the Miami Dolphins a playoff contender after all this time.
“He always gives me a hard time." Mike Pouncey said. "Any time we talk about football, he always brags how his team is a better football team. It gets under my skin a lot. Something I’ve dreamed about since I came into the NFL is to make a playoff game. Just to get the experience. I’ve watched him go through it, seen him go to a Super Bowl. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to.”
With all the moves the Dolphins have made this season, the former Gator has a real chance of finally making the playoffs and getting his brother off his back, and he'll be a huge part of that team mission as he and left tackle Branden Albert are the linchpins of the offensive line, charged with protecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill and keeping him on his feet so the Dolphins can finally show how good they can be.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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