Dolphins' Pouncey cleared to practice following MRI on knee

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) With his twin brother already sidelined by a serious injury, Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey entered the MRI machine fearing more bad news for the family.

The Dolphins worried, too. Their offensive line is the biggest question mark entering the season, even if Pouncey's healthy.

Happily he is. The MRI on Pouncey's left knee was negative, and he practiced Monday, relieved to avoid a serious injury when hurt during an exhibition game Saturday.

''I was nervous going into the MRI, but it came out good,'' Pouncey said. His twin, Steelers All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, is out indefinitely after undergoing ankle surgery last week.

For Miami, there was other positive news on the health front: First-round draft pick DeVante Parker took part in practice Monday for the first time since undergoing surgery on his left foot in June. It remains uncertain whether the former Louisville receiver will be available for the season opener Sept. 13 at Washington.

The only player to miss practice was cornerback Jamar Taylor, who remained sidelined with a thigh injury. Backup offensive lineman Jason Fox, who sat out last week's game because of a concussion, returned to practice.

Miami plays its final exhibition game Thursday against Tampa Bay, with the starters expected to see little action so they can remain relatively healthy.

Pouncey gave the Dolphins a scare, leaving Saturday's exhibition game against Atlanta when another player hit the side of his knee. After the game he said his knee felt fine, but he was worried, especially after watching a replay.

''Once I saw the play I was like, `Aw man, that could have been real bad,''' Pouncey said.

His thoughts turned to his brother. They were teammates at the University of Florida and talk every day.

''Our girlfriends get mad because we talk to each other more than we do them,'' Pouncey said.

Maurkice is out with a serious injury for the second time since 2013, but Mike said his brother was relieved the latest injury isn't season-ending.

''He's doing real good,'' Mike said. ''His mind is right. He'll probably miss half the season.''

The Dolphins desperately need their Pouncey from the outset, given the uncertainty elsewhere in the line.

Left tackle Branden Albert, coming back from knee surgery, practiced with the first team Monday but said he's still unsure whether he'll play in the opener. Starting guards Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner are young and unproven, although Pouncey gives them a strong endorsement.

''They're going to shock a lot of people,'' he said. ''They're playing really physical. They're really surprising me. I've seen the strides from last year to this year, and it's amazing.''

Pouncey played guard last year but is now back at center, the position he prefers, in part because he enjoys making the calls for the line just before the snap. He was chosen for the Pro Bowl as a center in 2013.

''I love the way he runs the show,'' offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. ''That's what the center has to do, and he's built for it because he loves football. He's a student of the game. He naturally has that personality where he is not afraid to make the call, make the decision. Just from presence and what the role the center has to be on our offense, Mike is exactly what we want.''

He just needs to stay healthy.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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