NFL: UH alumnus Samson Satele back with Dolphins as stopgap center


DAVIE, Fla. — Mindful that playing for the Miami Dolphins has its ups and downs, center Samson Satele is back.

Satele was a rookie starter with the Dolphins in 2007, when they went 1-15. He also started every game in 2008, when they were division champions and went 11-5 — their most recent winning season.

Satele was then traded away, and now he’s back after signing as a stopgap solution at the Dolphins’ troubled center spot. He practiced for the first time Monday.

“As I stepped on the field I was like, ‘Wow, my rookie year seems like yesterday,’” said Satele, 29. “It’s a full circle. It’s good to be back.”

The Dolphins signed Satele on Saturday after their first training camp scrimmage, an indication they’re unhappy with the other candidates to fill in for injured Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey.

Shelley Smith, Sam Brenner and Nate Garner took turns with the first team last week. None distinguished himself, and botched snaps were a recurring problem.

Satele, an eighth-year veteran, said he can’t remember the last time he had a bad snap.

“Once it’s your job, you’ve got to take care of it,” he said. “It’s just a habit now — get the ball to the quarterback.”

Satele has been a starter his entire career, including 24 games the past two seasons for playoff teams in Indianapolis. The native of Hawaii welcomed the chance to return to Miami (“No snow,” he noted) as Pouncey’s potential replacement.

Coach Joe Philbin made no promises to Satele regarding either the weather or playing time.

“I told him he’s competing for a job just like the other 14 offensive linemen,” Philbin said.

While Satele lined up with the first team some on Monday, Pouncey worked on the side Monday and looked good high-stepping during one rehabilitation drill. But Pouncey’s expected to miss at least a couple of games and perhaps more while he recovers from hip surgery in June.

“I’ve got a good opportunity to start a couple of games here before big boy Mike comes back,” Satele said.

The offense continued to sputter in practice, as it has done for much of camp. There were three false-start penalties by the first team, and Ryan Tannehill threw two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

At least there were no fumbled snaps. Satele said his head was spinning Sunday as he tried to learn the offense, but he predicted he’ll be ready for Friday’s exhibition opener at Atlanta.

“It’s not my first rodeo,” Satele said. “Today wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but tomorrow will be better, and Wednesday will be better.”

Satele’s old enough that he refers to the 26-year-old Tannehill as “Kid.” The only players who were with the Dolphins during Satele’s last go-round with Miami are Garner, defensive tackle Randy Starks, long snapper John Denney and punter Brandon Fields.

So what does Satele remember about his rookie season with the worst team in Dolphins history?

“It was all a blur,” Satele said with a chuckle. “I don’t want to remember that.”