FILE - In this Tuesday, June 14, 2016, file photo, Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey walks off the field after the NFL football teams minicamp at the Dolphins training facility in Davie, Fla. With three starters hurt, the Miami Dolphins will likely have
Wilfredo Lee, File
December 21, 2016

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey says the hip injury that ended his season isn't career threatening, and he'll be ready for the team's offseason program.

But with a rueful smile, Pouncey acknowledged mixed emotions regarding the possibility the Dolphins will make the playoffs without him.

''That would be a nightmare, but obviously I'm rooting for that to happen,'' he said Wednesday. ''I've been wanting to play in the playoffs for a long, long time. I'm ready for it. Let's go. I'll be there cheering.''

The six-year veteran has never reached the postseason. This year the Dolphins (9-5) are in the thick of the AFC wild-card race even though their three-time Pro Bowl center played in only five games.

Pouncey broke his hip during the preseason, came back for Games 5 through 9 and aggravated the injury, ending his season.

''I probably came back too early,'' Pouncey said. ''It was just me wanting to play.''

Pouncey also had problems with both hips in 2014 and 2015, and underwent surgery twice to repair ligaments. He said no surgery is needed this time, and a specialist told him he should be fine for 2017.

''Honestly with how I feel right now, I could play,'' Pouncey said. ''But we'll let it rest and be ready for the offseason.''

Coach Adam Gase said the decision to put Pouncey on injured reserve last week was difficult, but done because of concerns the center risked his career if he tried to return this season.

''I wasn't going to put him in that kind of position to where I had to tell him, `You might not be able to ever play again,''' Gase said. ''I want to be around Mike as long as he can possibly go.''

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