Mike Pouncey missed Monday's practice because he was having his surgically repaired hip re-evaluated by specialists.
According to league sources Pouncey was in New York hoping to receive the medical clearance he needs to begin practicing with his teammates. The outcome of his evaluation wasn't known, but sources say they were "favorable."
The Dolphins' medical staff must go over Pouncey's evaluation and plot a course for his return to the field in the coming weeks. The recommendation they give General Manager Dennis Hickey is critical because it could determine when Pouncey, a 2014 Pro Bowl selection, will be available for the season.
Hickey must formulate the Dolphins' 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday, and that's when he must take one of three routes with Pouncey, who has started 46 games for the Dolphins since becoming Miami's 2011 first-round pick.
The Dolphins could place Pouncey on injured reserve and designate him as the one player who can return to the active roster. Each NFL team gets to give one player that status per season, and they are allowed to return after six weeks. But Hickey will likely save that spot for an injury that takes place during the season.
The Dolphins could leave Pouncey on the Physically Unable to Perform list for the season's first week, which would allow the Dolphins to preserve a spot on the team's 53-man roster. Problem with that designation is Pouncey wouldn't be available to play until Oct. 19, the Week 7 game against the Chicago Bears because of the NFL's rules.
Like IR, the PUP rules and restrictions would keep Pouncey from practicing for the season's first six weeks.
The third option the Dolphins have is to activate Pouncey by taking him off the PUP by Saturday. Have Pouncey practice with the team during the regular season, and play the former University of Florida standout when he's ready to contribute. That could be Week 1, or Week 7. This route allows the team to be flexible, but they'd be down one player.
Pouncey was initially informed his rehab would take two to three months. He's beginning his third month this week, and is expected to be fully recovered by the Dolphins' Sept. 28 game against the Oakland Raiders, which will be played in London during Week 4 of the NFL season.
Pouncey has been lobbying for weeks to stay off the PUP list because he's certain he'll be healthy enough to play in the season's first month.
"I'm just praying that they don't put me on PUP," Pouncey said last week. "I've been thinking I'm ahead of schedule, I feel really good. I just can't wait until they really just let me loose."
The Dolphins signed veteran center Samson Satele early into training camp, and immediately inserted him into the starting center spot with the hope this eight-year veteran can hold the position down till Pouncey returns.
Satele has been solid in the three exhibition games he's played, but his first opponent of 2014 is New England's forceful nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Satele's struggles against Wilfork was the reason the Dolphins traded away the 2007 second-round pick, who started on Miami's offensive line for two seasons before getting shipped to Oakland for a 2009 sixth-round pick.
But that Satele-Wilfork matchup is destined to happen unless Pouncey is a fast healer. However, it will likely take the 25-year-old a couple of weeks to get in football shape.
Pouncey rehabs with team trainers every practice, and while the work is grueling it's not like the physicality he'll see in the trenches, playing 60-plus snaps at center.
"I think it's up to coach and the team doctors when I'll be ready to practice," Pouncey said. "In my head right now I feel like I can because I'm a competitor, but they're just taking the safety route and making sure that it's all the way healed up and that I won't have any relapses once I come back."
Staff writer Chris Perkins contributed to this report.
(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services