COSTA MESA, Calif. -- For his first stop in the National Football League, Miami served as a comfortable home for Mike Pouncey.
Selected in the first round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Florida, Pouncey immediately started at center as a rookie for the Miami Dolphins, anchoring the team's offensive line for seven seasons before his unceremonious release at the start of free agency last month.
"I love that city," Pouncey said this week. "I was big in the community there. I was there my whole career. I'm a guy that doesn't need much fuel to add to the fire, but when you do stuff like that and add fuel to the fire, it just makes you want to prove everybody wrong. So I'm excited for it."
Released by the Dolphins in a cost-cutting move during the first week of free agency because he refused to take a pay cut, the 28-year-old Pouncey signed a two-year, $15 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers last month that included $10 million in guaranteed money after an in-house visit.
While upset with how the Dolphins handled his release, Pouncey is pleased that he landed with the Chargers, where he gets an opportunity to play with a franchise quarterback in Philip Rivers for the first time in his professional career.
"I understand it happens, it was just the way it happened," Pouncey said. "I was there for seven years, and for them to not bring me in, set me down and let me know what was going on, especially the fact that me and my brother worked out there every single day this offseason -- sat down and met with the coaches every single day -- it just didn't sit well with me.
"Guys come in and get cut all the time, but I was there for seven years. They could have at least brought me in, instead of texting my agent and ignoring my phone calls and texts all day."
Pouncey said it's important that he quickly learn the playbook so he can begin to get comfortable in offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt's scheme. Pouncey will serve as a mentor for second-year offensive linemen Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp, penciled in to start at left guard and right guard.
"For me, it's just coming in and being who I've always been my whole career," Pouncey said. "I've always been a leader. I'm excited to help these guys out, since they are young guys, so just showing them how to be a pro and how to approach the game each and every day.
"When you've got young guys, you can kind of mold them into the way you want to, and I'm excited. I'm going to turn them into two, young dogs."
Rivers credited Spencer Pulley for playing solid in his first season as a starting center last year and the quarterback said it will now be important to quickly build some chemistry with Pouncey.
"I certainly had respect from afar, but didn't really know him personally," Rivers said. "The guys that have known him and the guys that play offensive line here and other places, they speak nothing but highly about him. Just the player he is, the mentality he brings and all those things you want in that guy in the middle. I'm certainly glad we got him."
A three-time Pro Bowler, Pouncey started 93 games in seven seasons with the Dolphins but played in all 16 games last season for the first time since 2012.
Pouncey has had hip surgery that limited his practice time in the past, but does not expect his health to be an issue in 2018.
"Injuries happen," Pouncey said. "For me, I was blessed to make it through all 16 [last year], and I'm going to make it through all 16 this year no matter what, I don't care what it takes.
"I'm going to make it through all 16 and just go from there. It ‘s a mindset thing for me. I proved it to myself last year that I can do it, and I'm going to do it again."