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Pouncey assesses move; Wednesday night Dolphins, Hurricanes, Heat chatter; Broadcast news

Before lining up at right guard in a game for the first time in his NFL career last Sunday, Mike Pouncey awoke at 4:30 in the morning feeling nervous, like “a rookie all over again.”

The nerves faded quickly. But switching positions, he assured today, was not easy, even though he played guard in his sophomore and junior years at Florida.

“It’s easy to do in practice,” he said. “Games are different. I feel like I was falling around a little bit.”

Still, the transition from center --- where Pouncey spent his first three seasons --– has gone pretty seamlessly. And he has done it despite missing the first four games  recovering from June hip surgery.

“He’s doing one of the most unselfish things, changing positions, and not crying about it,” left tackle Branden Albert said.

Pouncey, a Pro Bowler last season, embraced the move because he wanted the team to be able to play what coaches considered their five best offensive linemen, and also because he enjoyed playing guard for two years at UF before moving to center as a senior after his twin brother Maurkice graduated.

But Pouncey said he has been given no indication how long he will remain at guard.

The Dolphins are going week-to-week with this and Pouncey could be shifted back to center if Samson Satele suddenly begins to struggle or if the Dolphins decide they are better off with guard Shelley Smith in the lineup instead of Satele.

But Satele’s good work, and Pouncey’s willingness to play guard, led coaches to make the switch.

“Coach [Joe] Philbin asked, ‘Would I do it for the team?’ I said, ‘No problem, let’s do it,’’ Pouncey recalled of their conversation last week.  “Whatever helps the team win is what I’m all about.”

He said he is still taking some snaps at center and it would not be difficult to switch between the positions, if that’s needed this season, because “once you play center, you kind of know the offense like the back of your hand. When you play guard, when Samson makes calls, I am still making the calls myself because I’m so used to it. I don’t think it would bother me at all if I have to switch back.”

How would he rate his first game at guard?

“I feel like I played OK,” he said. “I was a little sloppy with my technique because it’s the first time I played football since four months ago.  Other than that, I played really hard. I hold myself to a high standard. I’ve got to play a lot better.”

The biggest adjustment in moving to guard? “You’re playing in more space now,” Pouncey said. “At center, you’re kind of helping everybody out, setting the stage for everybody. At guard, you’re the point of attack. You’re in a lot of space and a lot of one-on-one protections.

“Each week, I’m only going to get better and better at it, more comfortable. I’m just excited for the opportunity to be able to play guard and to keep continue to do it.”

Pouncey said he would be fine with playing either position longterm.  “I will be happy regardless,” he said.

### So what determines whether Ryan Tannehill keeps the ball on read option plays?

“It just depends on the play call who we are reading; then you just follow your keys,” he said. “If you feel like [the defensive player] is going to make a play on the running back or is going to make it tough for the back to get up field, then you pull it. If he stays where he is at and is not going to be able to make the tackle, then you hand it off.  

“I don’t want to be carrying the ball 20 times a game, but I think it’s a great tool for us. It keeps defenses honest, keeps them off balance. There’s some big running lanes like we saw last week where, if you are able to get a guy to crash down and get around the edge, there’s some good yards out there. We might call 30 zone-reads, and I might keep three of them.”

Tannehill, by the way, was limited in practice today because of ankle injury.

### Philbin, asked by Chicago media about losing Knowshon Moreno: “Let’s face it, he only really played one game. The second game he played in he had one carry. He played sparingly the other day. It’s unfortunate. [But] we’ll be fine.”

### Among the Dolphins players who quietly exited this week: Marcus Thigpen, who was released from the practice squad.

### Check the sports home page for Adam Beasley's stories on Brandon Marshall (who spoke to Dolphins writers today) and an injury update. Jimmy Wilson was the only Dolphin who missed all of practice today, though several others, including Tannehill, were limited.

CANES, HEAT CHATTER

### Al Golden made clear on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline that he is still waiting for a dominating defensive tackle to emerge among Calvin Heurtelou, Courtel Jenkins and Michael Wyche.

“Those guys really need to step up,… take a big jump,” Golden said. “We need to see someone from that group separate themselves. This is the healthiest [Wyche] has been.”

Though Heurtelou and Jenkins have played well at times, UM isn’t going to be elite again until it gets superior defensive tackle play (among other things).

### Golden’s message, via his WQAM show, to defensive lineman Ufomba Kamalu: “Don’t think so much. Be a bit more reckless. He can disrupt in the pocket. He can turn and run. He needs to get back to doing that.”

### No, the Heat’s 0-4 preseason record isn’t causing great concern. But Chris Bosh made clear today that things must change.

Of the buzzword “process,” Bosh said: “I do say that a lot to be politically correct. But in actuality, we’ve got to win some games, play better defense. We have to start seeing something different. We have to start seeing progress…. Attention to detail, help defense, one more pass, screening. All those things seem to go out the window during games.”

BROADCAST NOTES

### Bill Simmons’ three-week ESPN suspension ended today, and the New York Times reported Simmons “is furious and has been talking a lot about whether ESPN is still the right place for him.”

ESPN suspended Simmons after he unleashed a profanity-laced tirade against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on his podcast and then dared his employer to discipline him. Simmons’ multimillion dollar contract with ESPN expires next fall.

### Leaving ESPN is always a risky move and it was surprising when Rachel Nichols departed the “Worldwide Leader” for a job at Turner and CNN in January 2013. One of the appealing elements to Nichols was hosting her own show on CNN, a Friday night program titled “Unguarded.”

That program was among four shows canceled by CNN today, with Crossfire and Sanjay Gupta’s medical show also getting the axe. The driving force: CNN's desire to cut 300 positions.

CNN said Nichols will host sports-related interviews and specials for the network and will remain an NBA reporter for Turner and NBA TV.

Nichols snagged several marquee guests for her show, including LeBron James and Tiger Woods. It was CNN's first sports show in more than a decade, but viewership dropped 17 percent since the show’s launch.

The cancelations came a day after CNN disbanded its entertainment units in New York and Los Angeles.

### CBS is sending Dolphins-Bears to 16 percent of the country, including most of Florida and Illinois and other pockets of the nation, including southern Georgia, most of Arizona and most of the Dakotas. See 506sports.com for a map. Greg Gumbel and Trent Green, CBS’ No. 3 team, are working the game.

Please follow me on Twitter (@flasportsbuzz)

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