DAVIE, Fla. – Dolphins center Samson Satele has been the rock of Miami's offensive line this season. He is the only lineman to have started every game at the same position heading into Monday night's matchup with the New York Jets.
Satele, a second-round draft choice of Miami in 2007, was signed as a free agent the first week of August to fill the void created by Mike Pouncey's hip injury. But his solid play through the first four games led to Pouncey moving over to right guard upon his return to the lineup against Green Bay in Week 6.
"It's always great when you have two centers out there," said Satele, who spent three seasons in Oakland (2009-11) and two with the Indianapolis Colts (2012-13). "I don't even have to look out to the right sometimes because the two of us can communicate to the guards and tackles. . We have a great group of guys on the O-line and anybody can fill in."
Creating that stability in the interior has allowed the Dolphins to weather the loss of starting left tackle Branden Albert and injuries to rookie tackle Ja'Wuan James and veteran guard Daryn Colledge. The result has been better pass protection for quarterback Ryan Tannehill and better run blocking.
Last season, Tannehill was sacked 58 times, the most in the league, and so far through 11 games he has only been sacked 26 times. Satele is on pace to start all 16 games for the first time since his second season in Miami in 2008.
"I thought he played one of his better games the other day (at Denver), I really did," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. "We actually showed the team some pictures today and he showed up on a lot of the pictures from last week's game. I like the way he plays. He's got good poise and composure and he's been practicing hard and playing hard."
The running game has improved significantly over last season, averaging 4.7 yards per carry and amassing 1,370 yards. Lamar Miller leads the way with 673 yards and five touchdowns with a 4.9 average. A lot of those yards have come up the middle behind Satele, Pouncey and the combination of College and Shelley Smith at left guard.
Colledge is a ninth-year veteran who played the previous three seasons in Arizona (2011-13). He considers the Satele-Pouncey combination to be unique.
"Samson puts us all on the right page and Pouncey has a chance to steer what him and the right tackle are going to do," Colledge said. "That frees me up to worry about just what I and the left tackle are going to be doing, so it allows us to be on the same page more often. I think that our mental errors count has probably gone down considerably from where we were at Week 1."
An active Jets defensive line will put that comfort level to the test Monday night, but Satele has earned the confidence of his teammates.