The Miami Dolphins did not want to go into the training camp with injury concerns. Now, they may be looking for a replacement for their starting center to start the season and a replacement for their newly signed free agent at running back.
According to the Miami Herald, Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, the Dolphins’ only returning starter on an offensive line that was overhauled in the offseason, underwent hip surgery Monday and is expected to miss at least three months, meaning he likely will be sidelined for at least the first two games of the regular season and potentially more.
Under the most optimistic of projected recovery timetables, Pouncey could return for the Kansas City game Sept. 21 or against Oakland on Sept. 28 in London, which will be followed by a bye week. But recovery could take as long as four months.
The team also announced that running back Knowshon Moreno will have to have surgery on his right knee.
As for Moreno, soreness in his left knee sidelined him during the team’s minicamp last week. He sustained a torn ACL in his right knee during the 2011 season, but this issue with the left knee isn’t nearly as serious.
Moreno signed a one-year, $3 million contract during the offseason, with the expectation that he would become the Dolphins’ starter. But with Moreno sidelined during minicamp, incumbent starter Lamar Miller took many of the first-team snaps. Moreno has been scheduled to undergo athroscopic surgery on his left knee and is out four to five weeks.
He could be back practicing before the Dolphins’ preseason opener Aug. 8, though the team could proceed cautiously and keep him out of initial exhibition games.
The injury to Pouncey, however, appears to be the more serious or the one Dolphins staff seem to be more concerned about.
Pouncey is the only returning starter to the offensive line that was completely made over in the offseason.
The Herald reported that Pouncey was in good spirits after Monday’s two-hour procedure and is already talking about how soon he can get back on the field, according to a close associate.
The Dolphins have several options to fill in for him, but none are close to the quality of Pouncey, who made the Pro Bowl last season. In the past two seasons, Pro Football Focus has rated Pouncey eighth and 13th among all starting centers.
Sam Brenner — who started four games at guard last season — took first-team snaps at center during the practice that Pouncey missed last week.
Another option is veteran Nate Garner, who started two games at center last season when Pouncey was sidelined by an illness. Right guard Shelley Smith also has taken practice snaps at center, and undrafted Utah State rookie Tyler Larsen is a natural center who is trying to make the team.
If the Dolphins look to a veteran to sign to take Pouncey’s place until he is ready, here are some names that could be on the team’s radar.