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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was a full participant in Tuesday’s training camp practice.

One thing’s for sure about the former pro bowler: He loves football.

And his time on the sidelines has made him appreciate the game he loves more than ever.

Pouncey played in only five games in 2016 before his season officially came to an end in December, when he was placed on injured reserve for a hip injury. He’s had surgery on both hips in recent years, and underwent an additional stem cell procedure last spring.

On Tuesday, Pouncey was all smiles after going through a full practice.

“It felt really good,” Pouncey said with a grin. “I’m just happy to be back out there with the guys, just getting back, better at football, doing the things I love to do and I’m just glad I’m back out there.”

He was so glad, in fact, that he was beaming about how good it felt to get hit again. Pouncey casually made mention of an encounter with Ndamukong Suh that would make the average weekend warrior consider a trip to the training room.

“Suh gave me a stinger on my left side,” said Pouncey. “It shut my whole left arm off for a little bit. I miss those hits,” he chuckled. “It felt good. It hurt, but it felt good to have it again.”

The Pouncey-Suh battles in practice are always fun to watch, and that story should tell you how jarring their collisions at the line of scrimmage can get.

Pouncey spoke of Monday’s practice like a man with a new lease on life. His appreciation for his health was most evident when asked what his favorite part of today’s session was.

“The best part is being able to say I’m a Miami Dolphin, to be honest. I keep telling everybody, that process I went through is a long one. It was humbling. The best thing I can say is that I’m out here being able to do the things that I love to do.”

Pouncey also discussed his growing chemistry with Jay Cutler, who the Dolphins signed just a week ago. Cutler is almost certain to be the starting quarterback once the regular season begins.

“We talk a lot,” noted Pouncey. “It’s good that we get to work out here in full 11-on-11 reps together, going against our defense. We do a lot of work in the meeting rooms and on our walkthroughs. If he’s our starting quarterback when the season starts, we’ll be on (the same) page.”

The Dolphins plan for Pouncey is to work him every other day in practice, or “one-on, one-off.” Pouncey worked on Saturday and then sat out Sunday before hitting the field again on Monday.

On Pouncey’s off days, the team gages how his body feels. “I wasn’t sore at all,” Pouncey said of his Sunday off-day. “I really wanted to go yesterday but we were just sticking to the plan.”

Despite multiple setbacks in recent years, Pouncey feels confident that he’s not flirting with re-injury this time.

“I mean I wouldn’t be out here taking reps if I didn’t (feel confident.) You don’t want to be a guy that’s second guessing yourself because any time you do, you’re going to cause injury. I’m a guy that’s full out or full nothing. I’ve been going full out every day and it hasn’t been an issue.”

Pouncey would like to play in Thursday’s preseason matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, but won’t force the issue. Head coach Adam Gase says he plans to play Pouncey either in the second or third exhibition (Aug 24th at Philadelphia) but not both.

“The competitor in me wants to be out there and go out there and do the plays that the rest of the first-teamers are doing,” said Pouncey, “but we’ll see what (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase wants to do as we get along.”

The Dolphins host the Baltimore Ravens for preseason game two on Thursday at 7:00 PM from Hard Rock Stadium.

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