Sleeper Watch: Mike Pouncey

July, 12, 2012
7/12/12
1:10
PM ET
The AFC East blog continues its series this week on under-the-radar players who can make a big impact in 2012. Next up is a look at the Miami Dolphins’ starting center.

Sleeper player: C Mike Pouncey

Why we like him: Centers rarely get much attention, but we respect players in the trenches. Pouncey had a solid rookie season that included 16 starts. Miami's running game was the strength of the offense, in large part thanks to Pouncey. Tailback Reggie Bush had his first 1,000-yard season in Miami in 2011. Pouncey, similar to his twin Maurkice in Pittsburgh, is very athletic for a 300-pounder and packs a good punch. Pouncey could be one of the league’s top centers in a couple years.

Reasons for concern: The sophomore slump hits a lot of players, and Pouncey is entering his second year. Rookies often enter the NFL extremely motivated and with something to prove. Pouncey was a first-round pick who had to prove he’s as good as his twin brother. Mike Pouncey proved that last year and may not have the same edge.

Outlook: Barring injury, Pouncey should only get better. Pouncey is working with three different quarterbacks this summer – David Garrard, Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill – and that could be a problem for a center. But Pouncey’s athleticism and run blocking will be consistent up the middle, regardless of the quarterback. Miami tailbacks Bush, Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller should be happy about that.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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