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Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, who sustained a left hip injury during Friday's 41-14 loss at Dallas, will be out for the final two preseason games and his status for the Sept. 11 season opener at Seattle is uncertain.
This could be a major loss if Pouncey can't play in the opener. Seattle has one of the NFL's best defenses and is one of the loudest stadiums. Both of those issues make communication essential.
Backup center Anthony Steen took over for Pouncey against the Cowboys. Jamil Douglas, the 2014 fourth-round who started two games at center for Pouncey last season, moves up to backup center in Pouncey's absence.
"We're going to be week-to-week right now," Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. "We're still feeling this thing out. We're taking our time to make sure we have the right evaluation and can make a smart decision."
Pouncey, a two-time Pro Bowl selection at center, including last season, and a Pro Bowl selection at right guard, has had surgeries on both hips in the last two years.
Pouncey's injury comes in the first game the expected starting offensive line finally took the field Pouncey at center, left guard Laremy Tunsil, right guard Jermon Bushrod, left tackle Branden Albert and right tackle Ja'Wuan James with the new guards in place.
The first-team offense had a productive night with quarterback Ryan Tannehill going 12-of-20 for 162 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 119.2 passer rating.
Wide receiver Kenny Stills had three receptions for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Stills' second touchdown reception was a nice catch in traffic.
"It wasn't exactly where I wanted to put it," Tannehill said. "I underthrew it a little bit, but I thought Kenny made a great play (in) tight coverage. (The ball) snuck over the defender's head, and Kenny made a nice catch on it."
The first-team defense showed it still has issues to resolve, and tackling is No. 1 on the list. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh doesn't seem concerned.
"I think at the end of the day, it's about going out there and executing (and) putting yourself in the right position so you can make the right tackles," he said.
"We weren't always in the right position to make the proper tackles. Obviously, fundamentals are (about) running your feet through a running back or tight end or whoever it may be who has the ball, (and) hopefully it's the quarterback most of the time."
The Dolphins' defense was a poor tackling unit last season, too, and many of those starters remain.
"On defense, we just got to do a better job of stopping the run," Gase said. "We just got to get some negative plays, get our hands on some balls and when we do, we have to finish it with a turnover."
Miami seems to think its issues on offense (tight end Jordan Cameron still isn't involved, for example) and defense (left cornerback remains unsettled) can be successful addressed given time.
After a Dallas game in which many things went wrong (the run defense remains leaky) and were missing (the pass rush hasn't established a fearsome identity) the Dolphins are choosing to look toward a positive future as they enter Thursday's game against Atlanta in Orlando.
"I wouldn't say it's any more significant," Tannehill said of Thursday's third preseason game, the one in which starters typically play into the third quarter.
"Obviously, you put a little more time into the actual game, so you expect your guys to go out and be a little more prepared and execute better. It's more of evaluating ourselves and wanting to be functioning at a high level."
The Dolphins hope that's the case at center, where not having Pouncey could be a major obstacle.