DAVIE, Fla. — A restless Richie Incognito sat with Miami Dolphins teammate Mike Pouncey watching their team’s most recent game on TV, and contemplating the strange sequence of events that reduced them to couch potatoes.
“Richie looked over and was like, `Man, I can’t believe that we’re sitting here watching the Dolphins play,'” Pouncey said Wednesday. “I was like, `It’s unbelievable, bro. I had never pictured this ever in my life.’ We got a laugh out of it.”
Sidelined by a gall bladder illness, Pouncey said he watched Sunday’s victory over San Diego at his house with Incognito, who was suspended for his role in the team’s bullying scandal.
“He’s doing really good,” Pouncey said. “He’s in good spirits. He wants to get back on this football team, wants to get back and play football. Richie Incognito is a football player — that’s the only thing he knows. He’s missing it to death, but he’ll be all right.”
Incognito was suspended Nov. 3. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday on his grievance against the Dolphins seeking to rejoin the team.
Pouncey said he was interviewed about the scandal Wednesday by NFL special investigator Ted Wells, who has been questioning players, coaches and staff at the Dolphins’ complex this week. Wells is looking into allegations that tackle Jonathan Martin was harassed daily by teammates, including Incognito.
“He were asking a bunch of questions,” Pouncey said. “It seemed like a long time but it probably wasn’t. They got all the questions they wanted to get out of us, and we gave them trustful answers. They’re in there just trying to figure out what’s going on, so they’re doing the right thing.”
Pouncey rejoined the team Wednesday after spending three nights in the hospital, and he worked on the side during practice. He said he’s feeling much better and hopes to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
His illness was the latest setback in an eventful year for the Dolphins’ center. Following the Dolphins’ game at New England on Oct. 27, Pouncey was served with a grand jury subpoena related to the criminal case involving his friend and former University of Florida teammate, Aaron Hernandez.
The next day, Martin abruptly left the team and the bullying scandal began to mushroom, subjecting Pouncey and the rest of the offensive line to national scrutiny.
“If I make through 2013 without having a heart attack, that’ll be good,” Pouncey said with a laugh.
The NFL Players Association will conduct its own investigation into the scandal, led by Richard Smith, outside counsel for the union in the New Orleans Saints bounty case, a person familiar with the situation said. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the union hadn’t announced its plans.
Smith will examine the roles of coach Joe Philbin, his staff and Miami management, although it’s unknown whether they will be willing to meet with him.
“We’re cooperating fully with the” NFL investigation, Philbin said. “That’s all I’m going to say on that.”
One issue is whether anyone on the coaching staff ordered Incognito to toughen up Martin, a second-year tackle from Stanford who became a starter as a rookie but played poorly at times.
Wells was appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate after Dolphins owner Stephen Ross asked the league to look into the case. Martin spent nearly seven hours with Wells on Friday in New York.
Wells will also interview Incognito, who can be suspended without pay by the Dolphins for up to four weeks. He has missed two games so far – including the one he watched with Pouncey.
Pouncey said it was the first game he sat out since he was 6 years old. He lost five pounds because of his illness.
“It’s the worst diet ever … just bland soup. I actually got my appetite back, so they said whatever I can hold is what I can eat,” he said. “It started out as food poisoning, I think, and they ran a bunch of tests and found a couple of other things. But we’re going to get through it. … I feel great, I feel like I’m Mike Pouncey again.”
The Dolphins (5-5) have won two of their three games since Martin’s departure and are in contention for an AFC wild-card berth.