Recent addition Samson Satele filling in well at center for Dolphins
AUG 20, 2014 7:30p ET
The center position has long been a source of frustration for the Miami Dolphins, and with starter Mike Pouncey continuing to work his way back from his June 23 hip surgery, there was a glaring need at the start of training camp for some experience and steadiness in the middle.
Enter Samson Satele, who is taking advantage of the instability at the position and making the most of his opportunity in his second stint with the Dolphins, who originally selected him in the second round of the 2007 draft and started all 16 games that year.
Years later, Satele, who was signed Aug. 2, had to quickly adapt to the team's new offensive system and, despite his late arrival to training camp, he's played well both in practice and in their first two preseason games.
"Seriously, it was just the first night, it was pretty bad," Satele told FOXSportsFlorida.com after Wednesday's team practice. "But the more reps you get in practice, the easier it gets. The first night, I could hardly sleep. I kept writing everything down maybe three or four times that night, and the next day I went out to practice and everything just clicked pretty much. Once you keep writing everything down, it comes easy."
The seven-year veteran proceeded to erase the Dolphins' early training camp issues of botched snaps when guards Nate Garner and Shelley Smith were filling in, which also robbed the Dolphins of precious offensive line depth. It helped that he was training hard at home in Indianapolis, twice daily every other day, before he got the call, and he credits his quick progression with the Dolphins to his offseason training. But it wasn't a smooth transition at first to get up to speed with his teammates.
"I'm finally getting my legs under myself," he said. "The first couple of weeks, I guess I was rusty. I never thought I'd be rusty, but I just had to knock that off and now I feel a lot better and a lot more comfortable. It wasn't physically, it was just all mental stuff. I feel like I was leaning too much. Now I'm back to playing football now."
The constant issues with poor snaps finally appear to be behind the Dolphins with Satele in the fold.
"After the first day of practice somebody said, 'When was the last time you had a bad snap?' " he said. "I'm like, 'Probably tomorrow because you just said it.' But it's part of my job. I need to get that ball back to the quarterback before I can do my other job and block. I just try to be consistent snapping the ball. I don't know what causes the bad snaps, I just know I don't want to do it."
If you think that it's a minor issue, consider the fact that Satele took all the snaps in the entire first half against the Falcons with no issues. But rookie backup quarterback Seth Lobato's late fourth quarter fumble off an errant shotgun snap just a few yards away from the end zone robbed the team of a chance to win the game. It's the kind of veteran know-how you can't teach someone, and Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is glad to have Satele.
"He's experienced," Philbin said Wednesday. "He's a guy that has picked up the system very well for the short period of time that he's been here. I think he's a competitive guy, he likes to play. He seems like he's fit in to the locker room well. His teammates seem to like him and respect him. So I think he's done a good job."
Pouncey himself said after Tuesday's practice he was "praying" he wouldn't be placed on the PUP list to start the season, as it would mean he would be out a minimum of six games. For his part, all Satele can do is continue to work on the task at hand regardless of what role he might have down the line.
"I'm just focused on right now," he said. "I know when Pouncey comes back, they're going to kick me back. I just got to do my job now and then we'll see what happens when he comes back."