Mike Pouncey: 'I feel like I can play'

MIAMI -- Dolphins Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey was optimistic Tuesday about his chances to return to the field soon from major hip surgery.

"I'm very close. I feel great," Pouncey said in his first comments since being taken off the physically unable to perform list. "When this process started, I was wondering how long it was going to take. Now that we're here, it feels great.

"I don't really know how long it's going to take to get back on the football field. But, as I feel right now, I feel like I can play."

Pouncey's surgery initially was projected to keep him out as many as seven games. He was a prime candidate for the regular-season PUP list, which would have required Pouncey to miss the first six games.

But Pouncey is making good progress and looked strong in rehab during training camp and preseason. That helped convince the team that Pouncey can return within the six-week PUP window.

"The biggest thing about it when you're on the PUP, you don't get to practice with the football team," Pouncey said. "That would set me back too far. They gave me the opportunity. Obviously they believe in me to be back in time."

Pouncey dropped hints this summer that he hopes to play in Miami's Week 4 matchup against the Oakland Raiders in London. He reiterated Tuesday that game would be "special to me, but right now there's no timetable."

The Dolphins certainly need their Pro Bowl center in the middle. Miami's running game was inconsistent during the preseason.

Miami will host the New England Patriots on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.